Comment: Mark Twain and the Onset of the Imperialist Period.

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Mark Twain and the Onset of the Imperialist Period.

By R. Titta

Short essay about Mark Twain writing against Imperialism.

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens, 1835-1910) came to anti-imperialism by way of a prior understanding of race. The author of Huckleberry Finn (1885) and Pudd’n’head Wilson (1894) had from an early age begun to understand racism in the United States in a way that few of his Anglo-American contemporaries did. As a young newspaper reporter in San Francisco during the Civil War, Mark Twain wrote often about the brutalities visited upon the Chinese population of that city by the police. In 1865 he startled fashionable San Franciscans, including those of more pronounced Northern and abolitionist sympathies, by strolling arm-in-arm along Montgomery Street with the editor of the Elevator, the city’s newly established African-American newspaper. His early acts of egalitarianism and solidarity with the victims of race hate were unusual enough. In his mature writing life, however, Mark Twain began to lay bare truths about racial oppression with a particular vigor, using a new and democratic literary language that would forever change American prose.

Mark Twain faced the onset of European and American imperialism at the end of the 19th century with an acute understanding that white racism denied the very humanity of people of darker skin. He was aware that vile theories were then either being generated or revived by the educated hirelings of the European and American ruling classes, to justify their piratical conquests in Africa and Asia.

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