19 votes

Today In History: Mark Twain received his steam boat license

On this day in 1859, a 23-year-old Missouri youth named Samuel Langhorne Clemens receives his steamboat pilot's license.

Clemens had signed on as a pilot's apprentice in 1857 while on his way to Mississippi. He had been commissioned to write a series of comic travel letters for the Keokuk Daily Post, but after writing five, decided he'd rather be a pilot than a writer. He piloted his own boats for two years, until the Civil War halted steamboat traffic. During his time as a pilot, he picked up the term "Mark Twain," a boatman's call noting that the river was only two fathoms deep, the minimum depth for safe navigation. When Clemens returned to writing in 1861, working for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, he wrote a humorous travel letter signed by "Mark Twain" and continued to use the pseudonym for nearly 50 years.

Clemens was born in Hannibal, Missouri, and was apprenticed to a printer at age 13. He later worked for his older brother, who established the Hannibal Journal. In 1864, he moved to San Francisco to work as a reporter. There he wrote the story that made him famous, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.

read more:


Trending on the Web

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Michael Nystrom's picture

Bumped to the front page in honor of

our very own Mark Twain.

Thanks fonzdrew.

He's the man.

General Robert E. Lee Surrender & Farewall. By Twain & fonzdrew

Peace! Confederate General Lee surrenders, April 9, 1865 Submitted by Mark Twain, 04/08/2013 - 21:56.


Today in history: General Lee surrenders, ending the Civil War Submitted by fonzdrew, 04/09/2013 - 18:47.


Robert E. Lee’s farewell address to the Army of Northern Virginia: April 10, 1865 (framed address).

Disclaimer: Mark Twain (1835-1910-To be continued) is unlicensed. His river pilot's license went delinquent in 1862. Caution advised. Daily Paul

Jefferson's picture


toast to the DP's own Mark Twain..

Your posts have a unique character that helps make the DP what it is. I appreciate the effort you put into them.

On this day in 1843...

nothing happened.

Defeat the panda-industrial complex

I am dusk icon. anagram me.