“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Indianapolis in Marion County, Indiana — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Mark Twain

(November 30, 1835 - April 21, 1910)

Mark Twain Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, April 20, 2019
1. Mark Twain Marker
Samuel Langhorne Clemens was the sixth of seven chilrden of a merchant and his wife. He spent his youth in Missouri, then a slave state. After a career as a printer and steamboat pilot, he became a journalist, travel writer, humorist and satirist. His pen name came from his days on the Mississippi River. "Mark twain" meant water that was 12 feet deep and considered safe for a boat to float over without running aground. While his writing earned him a great deal of money, he squandered much of it on bad investment, especially on failed technologies. A man of diverse talents, Twain was also an innovator whose inventions included a steam engine and a machine to engrave printing plates. His writing redefined fiction, as he produced classic novels of modern literature for scholars and readers alike.

Twain and his family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, on the banks of the Mississippi River when he was 4 years old.

Twain became a printer apprentice. By 1851, he was a typesetter and contributed articles and humorous sketches to the newspaper owned by his oldest brother Orion.

Mark Twain Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, April 20, 2019
2. Mark Twain Marker
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riverboat trip down the Mississippi River inspired Twain to become a steamboat pilot, a lucrative profession in those days. He worked on the river until traffic was curtailed by the Civil War.

After a failed attempt as a miner, Twain began working at a newspaper. His famous pen name first appeared on a humorous account of his travels to the West.

A newspaper funded a trip for twain to Europe and the Biddle East. His popular travel letters were later compiled as The Innocents Abroad.

Watershed Moment

In the middle of his career, Mark Twain crafted two novels based on his boyhood home in Hannibal, Missouri. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was published in 1876 and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published in 1884. Huckleberry Finn is considered one of the great American novels. The book showcased his ability to create naturalistic dialogue and lifelike human portraits. The novel also was the first to highlight the growing moral struggle for white people to follow the present-day laws on runaway slaves and it humanized slaves as freedom-thirsty people.

Twain became friends with an executive at Standard Oil, Henry Huttleston Rogers. Rogers helped Twain secure his copyrights and recover from financial ruin by debt.
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Cultural Trail Indianapolis.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, MusicCommunicationsWaterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Indiana, Cultural Trail Indianapolis series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1839.
Location. 39° 46.609′ N, 86° 9.533′ W. Marker is in Indianapolis, Indiana, in Marion County. Marker is on West Walnut Street near North Pierson Street, in the median. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 705 North Illinois Street, Indianapolis IN 46204, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Thomas Edison (a few steps from this marker); Booker T. Washington (within shouting distance of this marker); Susan B. Anthony (within shouting distance of this marker); Benjamin Franklin (within shouting distance of this marker); Andrew Carnegie (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Wilbur and Orville Wright (about 300 feet away); Scottish Rite Cathedral (about 300 feet away); Albert Einstein (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Indianapolis.
Credits. This page was last revised on February 9, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 27, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 73 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on April 27, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Apr. 20, 2021