Joseph Twichell at Clemens' 70th
birthday celebration, 1905.
| The observance of Thanksgiving Day --
as a function -- has become general of late years. The Thankfulness is not
so general. This is natural. Two-thirds of the nation have always had hard
luck and a hard time during the year, and this has a calming effect upon
- Following the Equator
Thanksgiving Day. Let all give humble, hearty, and sincere thanks now, but
the turkeys. In the island of Fiji they do not use turkeys; they use plumbers.
It does not become you and me to sneer at Fiji.
- "Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar"
Thanksgiving Day, a function which originated in New England two or three centuries
ago when those people recognized that they really had something to be thankful
for -- annually, not oftener -- if they had succeeded in exterminating their
neighbors, the Indians, during the previous twelve months instead of getting
exterminated by their neighbors, the Indians. Thanksgiving Day became a habit,
for the reason that in the course of time, as the years drifted on, it was perceived
that the exterminating had ceased to be mutual and was all on the white man's
side, consequently on the Lord's side; hence it was proper to thank the Lord
for it and extend the usual annual compliments.
- Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 (University of California Press, 2010)
You ask me for a sentiment which shall state how much I have to be thankful
for this time. For years it has been a rule with me not to expose my gratitude
in print on Thanksgiving Day, but I wish to break the rule now and pour out
my thankfulness; for there is more of it than I can contain without straining
myself. I am thankful -- thankful beyond words -- that I had only $51,000 on
deposit in the Knickerbocker Trust, instead of a million; for if I had had a
million in that bucket shop, I should be nineteen times as sorry as I am now.
Trusting this paean of joy will satisfy your requirement, I am Yours truly,
- letter to editor of New York World, 27 October 1907. Reprinted in Word Shadows of the Great by Thomas F. Madigan
For two additional Thanksgiving Day sentiments on war and killing, see:
"What I Am Thankful For," New York World (26 November 1905) statement about his campaign against King Leopold's rule of the Congo.
Thanksgiving statement from Nov. 1905) --
Mark Twain asks what God might be thankful for while Russia is oppressing the Jews and King Leopold is committing atrocities in the Congo.
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