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Directory of Mark Twain's maxims, quotations, and various opinions:

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FOURTH OF JULY

Statistics show that we lose more fools on this day than in all the other days of the year put together. This proves, by the number left in stock, that one Fourth of July per year is now inadequate, the country has grown so.
- Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar

Eight grown Americans out of ten dread the coming of the Fourth, with its pandemonium and its perils, and they rejoice when it is gone--if still alive.
- Following the Equator

The business aspects of the Fourth of July is not perfect as it stands. See what it costs us every year with loss of life, the crippling of thousands with its fireworks, and the burning down of property. It is not only sacred to patriotism and universal freedom, but to the surgeon, the undertaker, the insurance offices - and they are working it for all it is worth.
- Speech, 4 July 1899, "The Day We Celebrate"

Fourth of July
Illustration by "Dwig" from
HAPPY HOLLOW, 1903


We have a double Fourth of July, a daylight Fourth and a midnight Fourth. During the day in America, as our Ambassador has indicated, we keep the Fourth of July properly in a reverent spirit. We devote it to teaching our children patriotic things, and reverence for the Declaration of Independence. We honour the day all through the daylight hours, and when night comes we dishonor it. Two hours from now on the Atlantic coast when night shuts down, that pandemonium will begin and there will be noise, and noise, and noise, all night long, and there will be more than noise -- there will be people crippled, there will be people killed, there will be people who will lose their eyes, and all through that permission which we give to irresponsible boys to play with firearms and firecrackers and all sorts of dangerous things. We turn that Fourth of July alas! over to rowdies to drink and get drunk and make the night hideous, and we cripple and kill more people than you would imagine. We probably began to celebrate our Fourth of July night in that way a hundred and twenty-five years ago, and on every Fourth of July night since, these horrors have grown and grown until now, in the most of our five thousand towns of America, somebody gets killed or crippled on every Fourth of July night, besides those cases of sick persons whom we never hear of, who die afterward as the result of the noise or the shock. They cripple and kill more people on the Fourth of July, in America, than they kill and cripple in our American wars nowadays, and there are no pensions for these folk. And, too, we burn houses. We destroy more property on every Fourth of July night than the whole of the United States was worth a hundred and twenty-five years ago. Really, our Fourth of July is our Day of Mourning, our Day of Sorrow. Fifty thousand people who have lost friends, or who have had friends crippled, receive that Fourth of July, when it comes, as a day of mourning for the losses they have long ago sustained in their families.
- Speech, 4 July 1907. Published in Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol 3, University of California Press, 2015

To-morrow is Hell-fire Day, that English holiday which we have celebrated, every Fourth of July, for a century and a quarter in fire, blood, tears, mutilation and death, repeating and repeating and forever repeating these absurdities because neither our historians nor our politicians nor our schoolmasters have wit enough to remind the public that the Fourth of July is not an American holiday. However, I doubt if there is a historian, a politician, or a schoolmaster in the country that has ever stopped to consider what the nationality of that day really is. I detest that English holiday with all my heart; not because it is English, and not because it is not American, but merely because this nation goes insane on that day, and by the help of noise and fire turns it into an odious pandemonium. The nation calls it by all sorts of affectionate pet names, but if I had the naming of it I would throw poetry aside and call it Hell's Delight.
- Autobiographical dictation, 3 July 1908. Published in Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol 3, University of California Press, 2015

Also see Mark Twain's 4th of July 1886 speech online at this site.


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