Mark Twain and the Colonel: Samuel L. Clemens, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Arrival of a New Century
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In Mark Twain and the Colonel, Philip McFarland tells the story of the rich years of American history between 1890 and 1910 through the fully engaged involvement of two of its most vital participants.
The narrative unfolds in six sections, each focusing on a different aspect of the United States of the early twentieth century that continues to matter to this day: America as an imperialist nation, America as a continental nation, America as a racial nation, America as a corporate nation, America at home, and America striving for peace.
In this short span of years, the America of the late nineteenth century will move substantially closer to the America we know today, thanks in part to the influence and actions of Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt, two of the most influential figures of the age.
Only in the 1850s were means devised to refine crude oil into kerosene and thus make it valuable, and only later in that decade did Edwin L. Drake figure out how to drill deep underground for the crude, inside a pipe that kept the drill hole from collapsing as it passed through soil, clay, and water. Drake drilled to bedrock and farther until at last, under a fold in the rock, his team struck oil. And—if not to him (who would die all but destitute)—to many, great fortunes accrued, as the oil was
and overproduction. Yet the oil business was fiercely competitive: all those independent refineries competing with one another across the Northeast. What Rockefeller intended was to combine with them, pull each one into his own joint stock company. He extended the invitation. “We will take your burdens, we will utilize your ability, we will give you representation; we will all unite together and build a substantial structure on the basis of cooperation.” Those who did join him prospered on a
piers he had told reporters that he was an anti-imperialist, stoutly opposed to America’s recent moves in the Pacific. Then you’re for Bryan? they queried. “I guess not,” was his answer. “I’m rather inclined toward McKinley, even if he is an imperialist. But don’t ask political questions, for all I know about them is from the English papers.” Still, this newly returned exile was hardly alone in his views. Earlier, while Samuel Clemens and family were in Vienna and the terms of the treaty that
they would be more likely to take his word than mine.” One more prerogative of fame: getting results when you appealed to a high official—let Herr Mark Twain through. But what about your plans? the reporters wanted to know. Tell us what comes next. “I am absolutely unable to speak of my plans,” was the reply, “inasmuch as I have none, and I do not expect to lecture.” The interviewers questioned the author on several additional matters, including his autobiography, parts reputedly so candid
Julius Rosenwald. By then Washington was famous nationwide and in Europe, entertained in the homes of the wealthy and much sought after as a public speaker. Harvard awarded him an honorary degree in 1896. Two years later, President McKinley paid a visit to Tuskegee Institute, in a speech on campus saluting its founder as “an accomplished educator, a great orator, and a true philanthropist.” This, then, was Booker T. Washington, Wizard of Tuskegee—dedicated, eloquent, the nationally celebrated