June 20 • 7:00 pm - 8:00 pmFree
The Mark Twain House & Museum welcomes Jason Silverman to the Trouble Begins stage for his lecture: The Twain of Our Republic and the Lincoln of Our Literature: The Historical Connections Between Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain
The lecture begins at 7 PM. This event will be held on Zoom Webinar. A recording will be available after the program.
This is a FREE event sponsored by Kathleen and Davin Jimenez. REGISTER HERE!
About the program:
Literary critic Bernard De Voto has observed that Samuel Clemens and Abraham Lincoln share “striking affinities.” He notes that both were raised in frontier societies, traveled the river, defended egalitarian democracy, extolled individualism, hated injustice, and abhorred oppression. They also were deeply touched by melancholy and fatalism, and they both used laughter as a therapeutic device to relieve their grief. Their humor, De Voto remarked, has a “basic gravity,” and it reflects “the struggle to be sane.” Other writers and critics such as William Dean Howells and William Van O’Connor have acknowledged the resemblances between Clemens and Lincoln. Indeed, Howells even went so far as to call Clemens the “Lincoln of our literature”
At the base of what connected Twain and Lincoln were their common frontier origins and their common visions of a just and democratic American society. It was on the midwestern frontier that both men absorbed a uniquely American sense of self-reliance, independence, mutualism, and democratic egalitarianism.
The elements in Huckleberry Finn are so quintessentially American that Twain’s message sometimes escapes our attention. If so, Lincoln has a similar gift for language and ideas. If Twain is the “Lincoln of our literature,” then Lincoln is the Twain of our Republic. In both cases, it is a common frontier vision of democracy which carries them on separate voyages to fame.
About the Speaker: Jason H. Silverman is the Ellison Capers Palmer Jr Professor of History Emeritus at Winthrop University where he taught for over thirty-three years. Prior to that he taught at Yale University for four years. Author or editor of eleven books, several of which were nominated for national book awards, his recent works are Abraham Lincoln the Athlete: A Proud Competitor but a Humble Sportsman (2022), When America Welcomed Immigrants: The Short and Tortured History of Abraham Lincoln’s Act to Encourage Immigration (2020) , and Lincoln and the Immigrant (2015, 2020). The latter was awarded The Immigrants’ Civil War Award.