Traveling with Twain

In Search of America's Identity

San Francisco, CA

Mark Twain went to work as a local reporter—the local reporter, he recalled, perhaps inaccurately—for the San Francisco Call in May 1864 and became part of the city’s literary circle, which included Bret Harte. But Twain’s stint as the Call’s local reporter lasted only four months. He grew tired of the daily thirteen-to-fourteen-hour “fearful drudgery, soulless drudgery….I got to neglecting it….Mr. Barnes discharged me,” Twain wrote four decades later. “It was the only time in my life that I have ever been discharged, and it hurts yet.” Twain claimed Barnes’ censorship of an item he had written about street bullies beating a peaceful Chinese also contributed to his discharge. Regardless, as Twain said, local reporting proved to be “the best school in the world to get a knowledge of human beings, human nature, and human ways.” Twain turned to more literary writing for the Californian and the Dramatic Chronicle and became the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise’s Pacific Coast correspondent. In 1866 Twain became a roving correspondent for the San Francisco Alta California. The newspaper would send him on a Mediterranean cruise the following year that would become the basis of his first book, Innocents Abroad.

December 7-December 8

Posts from San Francisco, CA

Alameda Ghigliones demonstrate the immigrant entrepreneurial spirit with produce business, trucking company

After a day in Calaveras County, home to the world-famous frog-jumping contest inspired by Mark Twain’s story, we drive west to the island of Alameda, California, to interview Frank Ghiglione, who has his own frog-jumping story. … Read more >>

Before Occupy Wall Street there was The Greening of America

Four decades before the Occupy Wall Street message spread across America, the New Yorker published on September 26, 1970, a nearly 70-page article, “Reflections: The Greening of America,” by Yale Law School professor Charles Reich that … Read more >>

Twain trip’s low-point: Theft in San Francisco

During our short stop in San Francisco last Wednesday, the van’s passenger-side window was shattered, and all of our stuff was stolen. Or more accurately, not all of our stuff, but two laptops, a beautiful Panasonic … Read more >>