Mark Twain today-- Conservative or Liberal

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Mark Twain today-- Conservative or Liberal

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juny 11, 2010, 1:08pm

It always amazes me how many folks on the left have Twain as a hero, although this is usually due to ignorance. The man was a "Mugwump" (I will let you look that up) who was against Theodore Roosevelt's expansionism as WELL as his liberal domestic policies. Twain believed in private charity; was against government entitlements. He was an avowed capitalist, and only in extreme cases of abuse did he feel the government should intervene in the business arena.

Of course I've been benefitted and blessed by having daily study and writing during my decade-long, multi-volume work and by access to all of MT's letters, those letters to him, newspaper articles, speeches, notebooks, and all the major secondary works on Clemens. He was a man who lived long enough to have his political and social views evolve. Still, I see people pull out a quote or two to argue what he was for or against--something easier to document than what might extend to today's world.

In many ways Twain was ahead of his time: he favored suffrage for women decades earlier than most. He was against racism in all forms, including anti-semitism, which he put to jealousy over the attributes of its victims. His wide travel and many years overseas allowed him to see most issues from the points of view of other cultures. He was perhaps the most widely traveled American of his generation. He was against all forms of humbug and corruption, whether in business or government, and his times had plenty of both. He despised begging in all forms. He cherished artistic and individual liberty, and joined the fight for copyright reform over many years, his voice leading to needed legislation. He was a great champion of democratic republics and the enemy of royalty in all forms. He was for wars that liberated oppressed people--for the war against Spain to free Cuba (until he read the Treaty of Paris & was convinced the actions in the Philippines were imperialist in nature). Still he favored "just" wars of liberation. He allowed his name and writing to be used by movements aimed at justice or liberation, such as the Russian Movement for revolution. He was a great humanitarian.

Some have called him the quintessential American. To study his life is to open one to 19th century history understanding. He knew or met nearly every person of note during his lifetime. He wrote perhaps 50,000 letters, of which some 12,000 survive, as well as millions of words in essays, speeches, sketches and stories. He was far more than the humorist in a white suit, a grandfatherly man that forms the advertising icon passed down to us in a Norman Rockwell painting.

Samuel Clemens is perhaps also the most misunderstood American.