Civil War discussed by "Mark Twain"

Civil War discussed by "Mark Twain"

Hannibal, MO —

Hannibalians and visitors alike are invited to learn about young Sam Clemens’ brief experience in the Civil War as a member of the Marion County Rangers.

A free program presented by Mark Twain, aka Jim Waddell, is scheduled at 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday until Oct. 23 at the Mark Twain Museum Gallery. The program is called “Personal Recollection of the Civil War.”

A couple visiting Hannibal from Huntington Beach, Calif., on June 11 was glad they decided to delay their departure to hear what Mark Twain had to say. “It was marvelous,” said Al Hendrickson, adding “it was well enacted” and Waddell was very knowledgeable.

“I think he belongs on the stage on Broadway,” Hendrickson said. “I don’t think it’s easy to do something like this. It takes a lot of work, and he obviously has done it.”

Mark Twain

Mark Twain

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Henrickson’s wife, Jill, also was impressed, reporting, “I was really entertained, and he had every word memorized. When you read it, it is different than hearing somebody saying it.”

‘Slavery caused that conflict’
Waddell began his Twain impersonation on the Civil War by declaring, “Slavery caused that conflict. ... Although cotton was involved, southern landowners availed themselves of human bondage (to produce the cotton).” He added that “two-thirds of the white population of the south did not own slaves.”

Noting that the country’s founders “realized that the issue of slavery was dangerously volatile, that one day the tinder would spark and it would be the devil to pay,” Twain (Waddell) said, “so various compromises were enacted to delay the catastrophe, but more often than not they only served to add fuel to the fire.” One law was the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

Twain said his life changed in 1847. “Upon the death of my father, John Marshall Clemens, in 1847 I was taken from school and placed in an apprenticeship with Joseph Ament. He was a printer in my boyhood days, and he was a prominent state legislator at the outset of the war.
“By the time I was 17 years of age I was a prominent journeyman, anxious to try my trade so I struck out for New York. On the way I passed through Syracuse (N.Y.) There was a famous courthouse where a slave named Jerry” had been held.

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