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Tue March 23, 2010
Lighting Out for the Territory: How Samuel Clemens Headed West and Became Mark Twain
The story of how Samuel Clemens went west in 1861, reinvented himself as a writer, and returned 6 years later as Mark Twain.
By The Walt Bodine Show
In 1861, Samuel Clemens set out from St. Joseph, Missouri, and embarked on an epic stagecoach journey West to Hawaii (well, mostly by stagecoach). It was a watershed odyssey that transformed an itinerant printer, Mississippi riverboat pilot, and Confederate guerrilla into a journalist, author, and stage performer. By the time it was over, "Mark Twain" was born.
We talk with historian and author Roy Morris, Jr., who has taken a new look at Twain's travels, considers his own account and matches it with what else we know from a time that gave birth not only to great early works like The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, but also to the new identity of a true American original.
Roy Morris Jr., is the editor of Military Heritage magazine and the author of four books on the Civil War and post-Civil War eras, including Fraud of the Century: Rutherford B. Hayes, Samuel Tilden, and the Stolen Election of 1876, The Better Angel: Walt Whitman in the Civil War, and Ambrose Bierce: Alone in Bad Company.