The Captain and his Ship

Mark Twain was an in-depth writer who wrote from experience, many of which he shar


The steamboat was one of the foremost methods of transportation in the nineteenth-century.  Twain wanted to be a steamboat captain since he was a little boy.

ed with the rest of his passengers on steamboats in the mid-1800’s.  In order to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a steamboat captain, Mark Twain, then known as Sam Clements, became an apprentice on a steamboat that would travel up and down the Mississippi River.  The long hours floating along the current of the river gave him life, and he enjoyed the strenuous work.  Vincent E. Valentine, MD, even went on to describe the river as a place of learning for Twain, calling it his “Harvard and Yale.”  Twain gained his voice as a satirical writer aboard the many ships he rode on the Mississippi, mainly by observing the outstanding characteristics of some of the passengers.  He would go on to base some of the characters in his famous novels after the charismatic population of the steamboats.  This voice would never get in the way of his work, though.  Twain wanted to make enough money working on the ship to support himself, and perhaps start his own life.  He was willing to encounter grave circumstances to pilot his own ship and sail up and down the river with unlimited and unchartered freedom.  Not even a ravaging storm could get in the way of his dreams.  These aspirations gave him the ability to share his personality and wit with the coming and going passengers on the steamboats, which was one of the catalysts for his success.  The journey would ultimately be long and incredibly grueling.

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One Response to The Captain and his Ship

  1. jackpumphret says:

    It was very interesting to hear about Twain’s deep connection to steamboats and how much he learned while engineering them. I found some of this to be very inspirational just by reading about how influenced he was by working on the steamboat. I think that maybe you should have added in another quotation or two but I found this to be written very well and after reading it I am interested to learn more about his time on rivers.

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