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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 24 Jan 2000 22:08:17 -0600
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In December of this year I presented a report to the Mark Twain Home Foundation in Hannibal making suggestions on integrating Hannibal's slave history into present exhibitions.  Unfortunately, the museum director, Henry Sweets has elected to take no action. The report is too long to post, however, I would gladly e-mail a copy to anyone so requesting.  The nine recommendations are: 

1) Acknowledge slavery in Hannibal in the videotape and in the displays in
the museum.  Population information is readily available from the 1840 and
1850 censuses.

2) Judge Clemens was a juror in the infamous September 1841 trial of
Thompson, Work and Burr.  A woodcut of the men in jail is available and in
the public domain.  It would make a good display with a narrative about the
trial of the abolitionists and their resulting 12-year sentences.

3) Acknowledge in the residence audiotapes that the Clemens family owned
and leased slaves. The slave Jennie can be named individually.  Jennie was
apparently the last of many slaves owned by John Marshall and Jane Clemens
though they continued to lease slaves on a yearly basis for household
servants. The lessee of a slave paid the slave's owner an annual fee and
agreed to provide a change of clothes, food and medical care for the year.

4) The Hawkins family across the street were also slave owners. This fact
should be acknowledged.

5) A pallet can be placed in the kitchen representing where Jennie and
subsequent hired slaves most likely slept.

6) A display representing Twain's adult friendship with Frederick Douglas
could be developed.  Douglas is well-recognized by young people.  It would
create a very positive association.

7) A very strong display could be developed regarding Twain's paying the
tuition of a black Yale Law student as part of, "the reparation due to every
black man by every white man." (Twain as quoted in Wecter's Sam Clemens of
Hannibal.) Further information is available in Fisher-Fishkin's Lighting Out
for the Territory.

8) The issue of why Jim was running away could be explored in the raft

9) A display drawing on Power's work could focus on the experiences of
Twain with the slaves at Quarles' farm.  This would be a good venue to
explore African-American story telling traditions.

If you are concerned about the omission of Hannibal's slave history, it would be very helpful if you would contact Henry Sweets and express your concerns.  His address is Mark Twain Home, 208 Hill Street, Hannibal, Missouri 63401.  
    Thank you for your kind attention to this matter.  Terrell Dempsey