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Mark Twain's Letters — Volume 1 (1835-1866) by Mark Twain
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SAMUEL LANGHORNE CLEMENS, for nearly half a century known and celebrated
as "Mark Twain," was born in Florida, Missouri, on November 30, 1835.
He was one of the foremost American philosophers of his day; he was the
world's most famous humorist of any day. During the later years of his
life he ranked not only as America's chief man of letters, but likewise
as her best known and best loved citizen.

The beginnings of that life were sufficiently unpromising. The family
was a good one, of old Virginia and Kentucky stock, but its circumstances
were reduced, its environment meager and disheartening. The father, John
Marshall Clemens--a lawyer by profession, a merchant by vocation--had
brought his household to Florida from Jamestown, Tennessee, somewhat
after the manner of judge Hawkins as pictured in The Gilded Age. Florida
was a small town then, a mere village of twenty-one houses located on
Salt River, but judge Clemens, as he was usually called, optimistic and
speculative in his temperament, believed in its future. Salt River would
be made navigable; Florida would become a metropolis. He established a
small business there, and located his family in the humble frame cottage
where, five months later, was born a baby boy to whom they gave the name
of Samuel--a family name--and added Langhorne, after an old Virginia
friend of his father.

The child was puny, and did not make a very sturdy fight for life.
Still he weathered along, season after season, and survived two stronger
children, Margaret and Benjamin. By 1839 Judge Clemens had lost faith in
Florida. He removed his family to Hannibal, and in this Mississippi
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