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DENNIS KELLY <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 21 Mar 2020 00:44:08 -0700
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I came across a work of Christian juvenalia called “Clifton Rice” published in 1870. (My copy was given to a girl to recognize her progress in school in 1874.)

The story starts when news of the fall of Fort Sumter reaches a small Vermont town. 

The boys form a kids’ militia and drill to warrant being called up to fight for the North. 

There are two black boys in town. The organizers of the “Life Guards” want them to join, but know they can’t be brought in as equals.  The “n-word” is used. 

The elder black boy, Caesar, demonstrates talents that contradict the low expectations for him. The elite, white, wealthy, good-looking captain of the Life Guards (Clifton Rice) confesses an instance of his unworthy behavior to Caesar. 

Now, it really is a pretty lousy book, but some of the issues come close to those found in Huck Finn. 

Does anyone familiar with this genre know how popular it was while Finn was germinating in Twain’s mind?

Dennis Kelly

The book was published without a named author, but it takes very little research to identify the author as Sarah Stuart Cooper Robbins, the daughter of a long line of New England ministers.