Mark Twains Western Adventures Essay, Research Paper
Mark Twain s Western Adventures
Samuel Clemens began a 57- year habit of traveling around the world in 1953 at the age of seventeen when he first left his home in Hannibal, Missouri. It was not until 1861 that he began his western adventures when he accompanied his brother Orion to Nevada. The adventures that he experienced during this trip and other trips to the West became the basis of some of Mark Twain s future writings. Samuel Clemens actually adopted the pen name of Mark Twain in 1963 between his Nevada adventures and the California experiences.
Clemens had decided to make the trip with his brother who had newly been appointed as
Secretary of the Territory of Nevada because, as he explained later in life, he regarded himself quite a rich man from his earnings as a steamboat pilot for the previous couple of years and was paying his brother s passage for him. As long as he was paying, he decided to go too and see if he could find some work on the frontier especially since the rivers were now closed to navigation.
The daily events of the Nevada trip were actually chronicled by Clemens brother who kept a detailed journal. The two brothers traveled by steamboat up the Missouri River to St. Joseph and from there took a 20 day stage coach trip, traveling over 1700 miles to Carson City, Nevada. The cost of this trip was about $200 each. When they got to Nevada, silver fever had already gripped the area and Clemens was not immune. Records show that he purchased two mines; one for $500 in the Black Warrior Ledge, and the other for $200 in the Farnum Lode. There is also a record of a stock certificate for five shares in the Sonora Silver Mining Company. The experiences of the trip to Nevada and his upcoming trip to California were later to be used to his book Roughing It.
After a short return to Virginia City, Clemens moved to San Francisco. He took a job working as reporter for the Morning Call where he earned $40 a week. He found this job to be way too much work and he neglected his work, proving to be almost worthless, which ultimately led to his resignation perhaps at the suggestion of his employer. Later he referred to this period as an awful slavery for a lazy man.
From here he traveled to Jackass Hill to stay with friends and while there recorded the folk lore or tall tales of the minors. One of these stories, he later turned into his article The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. Having exhausted all his financial resources by 1865, Clemens had to take employment as the San Francisco correspondent of the Enterprise. Within five months, he had managed to get out of debt and was ready for another change. This time his travels took him to the Sandwich Islands or Hawaii where he wrote letters for the Sacramento Union. These letters were widely read and when he returned to California, Clemens found that he was famous. Being advised by his friend, Thomas McGuire to take advantage of this fame, Clemens broke into the lecture field, where he became a great
success. In 1866, Clemens left the West to return to New York and to travel from there to many parts of the world. His time in the West, however, was invaluable to his later writings as Mark Twain.