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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 28 Mar 2023 12:15:59 -0700
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
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Scott Holmes <[log in to unmask]>
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If you all will forgive for the length of a quote from Richard Burton's 
book, "The City of the Saints", regarding his impression on the state of 
things before heading west in 1860, the year before Sam Clemen's journey:

/The Man was ready, the Hour hardly appeared propitious for other than 
belligerent purposes. Throughout the summer of 1860 an Indian war was 
raging in Nebraska; the Comanches, Kiowas, and Cheyennes were "out;" the 
Federal government had dispatched three columns to the centres of 
confusion; intestine feuds among the aborigines were talked of; the 
Dakotah or Sioux had threatened to "wipe out" their old foe the Pawnee, 
both tribes being possessors of the soil over which the road ran. 
Horrible accounts of murdered post boys and cannibal emigrants greatly 
exaggerated, as usual, for private and public purposes, filled the 
papers, and that nothing might be wanting the following positive 
assertion (I afterward found it to be, as Sir Charles Napier 
characterized one of a Bombay editor's sayings "a marked and emphatic 
lie") was copied by full half the press:/

"Utah has a population of some fifty-two or fifty-three thousand-- more 
or less-- rascals. Governor Cumming has informed the President exactly 
how matters stand in respect to them. Neither life nor property is safe, 
he says, and bands of depredators roam unpunished through the territory. 
The United States judges have abandoned their offices, and the law is 
boldly defied everywhere. He requests that 500 soldiers may be retained 
at Utah to afford some kind of protection to American citizens who are 
obliged to remain here .

/"Mormon" had in fact become a word of fear; the Gentiles looked upon 
the Latter Day Saints much as our crusading ancestors regarded the 
"Hashshashiyun," whose name indeed was almost enough to frighten them. 
Mr Brigham Young was the "Shaykh-el-Jebel, the Old Man of the Hill 
redivivus, Messrs Kimball and Wells were the chief of his Fidawin, and 
"Zion on the tops of the mountains" formed a fair representation of Alamut./

/"Going among the Mormons!" said Mr M--- to me at New Orleans; "they are 
shooting and cutting one another in all directions; how can you expect 
to escape?"/

/Another general assertion was that "White Indians," --those Mormons 
again!"-- had assisted the "Washoes," "Pah Utes" and "Bannacks" in the 
fatal affair near Honey Lake, where Major Ormsby, of the militia, a 
military frontier-lawyer, and his forty men, lost the numbers of their 

/But sagely thus reflecting that "dangers which loom large from afar 
generally lose size as one draws near," that rumors of wars might have 
arisen, as they are wont to do, from the political necessity for another 
"Indian botheration," as editors call it; that Governor Cumming's name 
might have been used in vain, that even the President might not have 
been a Pope, infallible, and that the Mormons might turn out somewhat 
less black than they were painted: moreover, having so frequently and 
willfully risked the chances of an "I told you so" from the lips of 
friends, those "prophets of the past;" and, finally, having been so much 
struck with the discovery by some Western man of an enlarged truth, viz, 
that the bugbear approached has more affinity to the bug than to the 
bear, I resolved to risk the chance of the "red nightcap" from the 
bloodthirsty Indian and the poisoned bowie-dagger --without my Eleonora 
or Berengaria-- from the jealous Latter Day Saints. I forthwith applied 
myself to the audacious task with all the recklessness of a "party" from 
town precipitating himself for the first time into "foreign parts" about 

On 3/28/23 10:45, Robert STEWART wrote:

>   My comments are based on my own life, and on having read, while correcting OCR, a few hundred thousand lines of type in California newspapers of 1859-1865. Twain had good reason to be afraid of Indians when he first came West. The California papers were regularly reporting killings and other "difficulties," in Oregon, Nevada Territory, California and Arizona-New Mexico. But in fairness, I also read of the indigenous folks providing firewood, hands to wring out washing, yardwork and menial tasks. Then Twain came East, where the public opinion was different. Consider what happened across the nation during the Civil War which was occurring during Twain's time in the West. Clemens himself made a shift, shown in his letters. He arrived in a territory that was heavily loaded with pro-Confederate refugees (especially lawyers) from California. (How they were treated after Gov. Nye and the Military showed up is a story in itself.) Shortly after fighting began back east a Sam Clemens letter refers to the Union army as "they." But Sam is among strongly pro-Union men, He hikes to Lake Tahoe with a former member of the Ohio "foot soldiers" who the next year became a captain in the Ohio Cavalry. Letters from Sam C. now refer to Union military as "we," "our." Now consider the post-war periods, not just of the Civil War, but most wars. Enemies are demonized and vilified during the conflict to motivate support. And then think of the change of attitude in the postwar periods. Twain was just another member of the populace.
>      On Monday, March 27, 2023 at 10:23:37 AM PDT, Dave Davis<[log in to unmask]>  wrote:
>   Having asked that, I perhaps should go read this recent book --
> Reviewed by: Beverly Lyon Clark
> *Mark Twain among the Indians and Other Indigenous People.*
> By Kerry Driscoll. Oakland: University of California Press, 2018. ix + 420
> pp. Figures, notes, bibliography, index. $95.00, cloth
> On Mon, Mar 27, 2023 at 1:20 PM Dave Davis<[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
>> He clearly wrote and published some highly negative comments. Did he ever
>> praise an Indigenous American, whether a fictional character or a real-life
>> person?
>> As we all know -- He was active and in the public eye in June, 1876
>> (Battle of the Little Big Horn) and in December, 1890 (Wounded Knee
>> Massacre). 'Wild West' shows were common before 1905. Certainly, once he
>> returned to residency in the US (during 1901) and was consulted by
>> reporters for his view on anything and everything. His anti-imperialist
>> stance -- perhaps the connection could be drawn -- was public from 1898 on,
>> I believe.
>> DDD
>> On Mon, Mar 27, 2023 at 12:57 PM Scott Holmes<[log in to unmask]>
>> wrote:
>>> I recently queried about a note I found in "Heretical Fictions" on his
>>> apparent sympathy for "Indians" in his later decades.  I received a
>>> reference to a  masters Thesis from 1984 that argues he never actually
>>> hated Indians, he was only using them as a rhetorical device to
>>> criticize Western Civilization.  My opinion is that the vehemence of his
>>> comments belie this idea.  I posted a short essay on this on my personal
>>> website for those interested.
>>> --
>>> /Unaffiliated Geographer and Twain aficionado/
/Unaffiliated Geographer and Twain aficionado/