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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Robert STEWART <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 19 May 2015 15:12:08 +0000
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Robert STEWART <[log in to unmask]>
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 The Nevada Appeal, Carson City's local newspaper, is celebrating 150 years "active duty" in Carson City. In one of the Appeal's recent historical notes about Nevada Territory prior to establishment of the Appeal in 1865, brief mention is made of Mark Twain as 1863 secretary of the Washoe Agricultural, Mining and Mechanical Society chartered by the Second Nevada Territorial Legislature.,
In Mark Twain of the Enterprise, Henry Nash Smith quotes a letter to the San Francisco Call, clearly by Clemens, in which the writer complains of being paid for Society secretarial work in Territorial Scrip, which was heavily discounted. In the 1862 law chartering the Society, the founding officers are listed by name. Wm. M. Gillespie is Corresponding Secretary and Samuel L. Clemens is Recording Secretary. Clemens is to receive not more than $300 per annum, and the law specified that the payment could not come from the $2,000 the legislature provided to the society for premiums. No records of the defunct society have been located.
There are no records of Territorial warrants or scrip being paid to Sam, other than the $250 he was granted as a newspaper reporter covering the November-December 1862 session. A stipend to reporters was a common practice in those years. In 1862 Sam, of the Territorial Enterprise, covered the Assembly and Clement T. Rice, The Unreliable, of the Union, covered the Council, or upper house. It is believed they shared notes so each could give full legislative reports. Before leaving the Territory for San Francisco, Sam disposed of his scrip to a local buyer, doubtless at a discount.
 A referenced first newspaper article has not been located. In what is apparently Clemens second newspaper account of the Society's October, 1863 first Fair, reprinted in Smith's MTE and on Barbara Schmidt's Twainquotes site, Sam mentions a speaker, clearly implying the speaker was intoxicated, but not naming him. Similarly, the California Farmer and Journal article praising the fair does not mention a speaker. The advertised speaker, according to the Sacramento Bee, was Henry Edgerton, a former California legislator who was before the fair considered to be named as a Republican U.S. Senator when Nevada became a State. The Bee wrote that Edgerton had agreed to deliver the address, prepared himself, and when the time came, was so greatly intoxicated that he could not. When Nevada statehood was granted in October 1864, Edgerton was no longer considered a candidate for the U.S Senate.
Following the October 1863, first Fair, the Society members, persons who had paid five dollars for an annual membership, elected Gillespie as corresponding secretary. Sam Clemens apparently did not stand for election as Recording Secretary; his brother Orion held that post during the second fair, in October 1864, after which the Washoe A, M & M Society liquidated its holdings and closed shop.