Archive for August, 2013
A copyright bill was coming up in Washington and a delegation of authors went down to work for it. Clemens was not the head of the delegation, but he was the most prominent member of it, as well as the most useful. He invited the writer to accompany him, and elsewhere I have told in detail the story of that excursion,  which need be but briefly touched upon here.
His work was mainly done aside from that of the delegation. They had him scheduled for a speech, however, which he made without notes and with scarcely any preparation. Meantime he had applied to Speaker Cannon for permission to allow him on the floor of the House, where he could buttonhole the Congressmen. He was not eligible to the floor without having received the thanks of Congress, hence the following letter:
To Hon. Joseph Cannon, House of Representatives:
Dec. 7, 1906
DEAR UNCLE JOSEPH, – Please get me the thanks of the Congress – not next week but right away. It is very necessary. Do accomplish this for your affectionate old friend right away; by persuasion, if you can, by violence if you must, for it is imperatively necessary that I get on the floor for two or three house and talk to the members, man by man, in behalf of the support, encouragement and protection of one of the nation’s most valuable assets and industries – its literature. I have arguments with me, also a barrel, with liquid in it.
Give me a chance. Give me the thanks of Congress. Don’t wait for others; there isn’t time. I have stayed away and let Congress alone for seventy-one years and I am entitled to thanks. Congress knows it perfectly well, and I have long felt hurt that this quite proper and earned expression of gratitude has been merely felt by the House and never publicly uttered. Send me an order on the Sergeant-at-Arms quick, When shall I come? With love and a benediction.
This was mainly a joke. Mark Twain did not expect any “thanks,” but he did hope for access to the floor, which once, in an earlier day, had been accorded him. We drove to the Capitol and he delivered his letter to “Uncle Joe” by hand. “Uncle Joe” could not give him the privilege of the floor; the rules had become more stringent. He declared that they would hang him if he did such a thing. He added that he had a private room down-stairs, where Mark Twain might establish head-quarters, and that he would assign his colored servant, Neal, of long acquaintanceship with many of the members, to pass the word that Mark Twain was receiving.
The result was a great success. All that afternoon members of Congress poured into the Speaker’s room and in an atmosphere blue with tobacco smoke, Mark Twain talk the gospel of copyright to his heart’s content.
The bill did not come up for passage that session, but Mark Twain lived to see his afternoon’s lobbying bring a return. In 1909, Champ Clark, and those others who had gathered around him that afternoon, passed a measure that added fourteen years to the copyright term.
Mark Twain’s Letters, Vol. II. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1917. p. 801 – 802
Excerpt: “General Spinner as a Religious Enthusiast” [Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Vol. 37, Issue 217 (June 1868) p 141]
On pg. 41 of Early Sketches 1851 – 1864, Vol. 1, Volume 15 it says that possible articles “designed to appear in the ‘syndicate’ of weeklies: ‘General Spinner as a Religious Enthusiast’ (no. 222), ‘Mr. Brown, the Sergeant-at-Arms of the Senate’ (no. 214), and ‘Interview with Gen. Grant’ (no. 215).” These three sketches were never published.
It appears Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, in June 1868 published what could be an excerpt…
The April Number of the Drawer contained a couple of anecdotes of General Spinner, United States Treasurer. Here is another apropos of the General as a religious enthusiast. In politics he is known as a thorough Radical; in religion, a devout Methodist. It began to be whispered around that, under very trying and extraordinary circumstances, General Spinner was guilty of swearing a little sometimes. The Church took the matter in hand as quietly as possible, and appointed a discreet sister (the grieving mourner of a husband and three gallant brother’s slain in the war) to inquire into the matter. Instead of gathering evidence at second-hand, she went to head-quarters; she posted herself among a crowd of waiting ones in the General’s office. The old man was absorbed in business, and working away like a steam-engine. File after file of men passed before him, and he shot his decisions at them in sharp, curt, sentences as they moved on. Finally, a tall, handsome man approached and handed in his documents for examination. The General ran his eye down the pages, and a thunder-cloud settled portentously upon his countenance. He threw down he papers and shook his fist fiercely in the gentleman’s face, and said:
“You have come to me with this! You sneaking hound of a deserter! You bring a paper here, signed by the President of the United States, setting forth that, when you deserted from the regular army to go and fight four years against your country, there were four more months’ pay coming to you from the Government you so outraged, and ordering me to pay you those arrearages. I’d see you and the President a hundred million miles miles in the hottest hole in hell first!”
New Harper’s Monthly Magazine, Volume 37, p. 141 [Google Books}
New Harper’s Monthly Magazine, Volume 37, p. 141 [Cornell’s site]
To follow up on yesterday’s post about the National Hotel = Gadsby’s Hotel. Will the real Gadsby’s Hotel please stand up? (It appears my notes were about the wrong Gasdby’s. Thank you, John!)
“Originally founded in 1827 by John Gadsby (1766-1844), the National Hotel was located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 6th Street, NW. Gadsby, who had run Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria in the 1790s, came to Washington in the early 1820s, taking over a tavern and hotel at 19th and I Streets, NW. That place was too small and out of the way, however, so in 1827, he purchased the row of federal townhouses on the northeast corner of Pennsylvania Avenue at 6th Street, NW, and combined them to form the hotel he called the National but which was more frequently known as Gadsby’s Hotel in its early days.” – John DeFerrari, “The National Hotel,” Streets of Washington, 24 Nov 2009.
First appearing in his Washington letter to the Territorial Enterprise on March 1, 1868, the story of “The Man Who Stopped at Gadsby’s”[i] was a tale that stuck with Twain: he repeated it in full in his 1880 book A Tramp Abroad.[ii] Twain initially relates the story in his dispatch to the Enterprise in relation to a recently arrived office-seeker in Washington pursuing appointment as the Postmaster of San Francisco.
[ii] Twain, Mark. A Tramp Abroad. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1907, p. 244 – 250.
According to the supplement to the 50th anniversary edition of the Evening Star, published on December 16, 1902, “William Gadsby gave his name to the hotel at the corner of 3d street and the avenue.” (p. 13.) The Gadsby Hotel subsequently became the National Hotel. (ES, 6 January 1903, p. 11.) From older newspaper records it appears that the name “Gadsby’s Hotel” had fallen out of currency before the Civil War. An auction notice in on the front page of the Evening Star on 20 June 1856 refers to “the Washington House (formerly Gadsby’s Hotel,) situated on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Third street.”
 A Tramp Abroad: 246
This article was dated December 2, 1867.
New-York tribune. (New York [N.Y.]), 27 Dec. 1867. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030214/1867-12-27/ed-1/seq-2/>
Not to be confused with the “Facts Concerning the Recent Important Resignation.” [NY Tribune, 13 Feb 1868.]
“Facts Concerning the Recent Resignation.”
Daily Ohio statesman. (Columbus, Ohio), 04 Jan. 1868. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84028645/1868-01-04/ed-1/seq-1/>