All Else Equal, Mark Twain Commemorative Gold & Silver Coins Coming in 2016
” Any kind of royalty, however modified, any kind of aristocracy, however pruned, is rightly an insult.”
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
“There are two times in a man’s life when he should not speculate: when he can’t afford it, and when he can.”
- Following the Equator, Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar
“The primary rule of business success is loyalty to your employer. That’s all right–as a theory. What is the matter with loyalty to yourself?”
- Speech, 3/30/1901
Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born on November 30, 1835 and died April 21, 1910. He is known by his pseudonym Mark Twain, a moniker under which he authored humorous and poignant fiction novels and spoke publicly. He is known, in the collective mind of North Americans, for his novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), and its sequel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885).
Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri and achieved great success as a writer and public speaker, befriending presidents, artists, industrialists and European royalty. Twain even developed a close and lasting relationship with Nikola Tesla and spoke highly of John D. Rockefeller in writings that would become parts of his autobiography.
On April 18 2012, three days before the 102nd anniversary of the late, great authors’ death, the House of Representatives passed the Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Act, marking perhaps the most worthwhile piece of legislation in recent memory.
The bill, H.R. 2452, was first presented on July 7, 2011 by the courageous Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, who stood in the ring in the corner of his and Twain’s state of Missouri and battled it out against nay-saying northern, eastern and western states.
The legislation allows for no more than 100,000 $5 gold and 350,000 $1 silver commemorative coins for issuance during the calendar year 2012.
“Mark Twain is one of our nation’s greatest scribes whose work has withstood the test of time and continues to remind Americans of where we have come as a people,” said Rep. John Larson of Connecticut, who cosponsored H.R. 2453.”These coins will help a new generation of Americans learn about Twain’s contributions.” And with the price of gold and silver rocketing as they have, the leaders of this great nation can rest assured that it will only be the well-to-do generations’ who have the money to afford the lesson offered by these precious metal coins. Twain coins have had trouble passing in the House and Senate, causing the coins to be introduced in a non-anniversary year.
What sort of lessons does this great scribe of our nation offer to the progeny of his generation? Always peeking out from behind the obfuscation of his tongue-in-cheek was a riveting conclusion as to why things were the way they were.
Twain, in The New York Herald in 1900 admitted to a transformation and political awakening, inspired in him by the Philippine-American War, away from being “a red-hot imperialist:”
I wanted the American eagle to go screaming into the Pacific …Why not spread its wings over the Philippines, I asked myself? … I said to myself, Here are a people who have suffered for three centuries. We can make them as free as ourselves, give them a government and country of their own, put a miniature of the American Constitution afloat in the Pacific, start a brand new republic to take its place among the free nations of the world. It seemed to me a great task to which we had addressed ourselves. But I have thought some more, since then, and I have read carefully the treaty of Paris [which ended the Spanish-American War], and I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem. It should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to make those people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.
Twain looked beyond the tiny constipation of his own nation to see the overarching insufficiency of civilization in carrying the torch of man much further without stumbling upon intense tragedy. He saw a deeply corrupted core of society and posited ancient winds as the source. He did not look to presidents, some of whom his friends, for answers to why the world turned as it did, for to ask such a task of them, he knew, was asking too much, for they too were mere mortals.
“Is it, perhaps, possible that there are two kinds of Civilization–one for home consumption and one for the heathen market?”
- To the Person Sitting in Darkness
“There is no salvation for us but to adopt Civilization and lift ourselves down to its level.”
- To the Person sitting in Darkness
“There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man’s notion that he less savage than the other savages.”
- Following the Equator
“Every civilization carries the seeds of its own destruction, and the same cycle shows in them all. The Republic is born, flourishes, decays into plutocracy, and is captured by the shoemaker whom the mercenaries and millionaires make into a king. The people invent their oppressors, and the oppressors serve the function for which they are invented.”
- Mark Twain in Eruption
Funds collected from surcharges placed on sales of the commemorative coins would get split into fourths and paid equally to:
- the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut, to support the continued restoration of the Mark Twain house and grounds, and ensure continuing growth and innovation in museum programming to research, promote and educate on the legacy of Twain.
- the Mark Twain Project at the Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley, California, to be used for research and education purposes.
- the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College Elmira College, New York, to be used for research and education purposes.
- the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Missouri, to preserve historical sites related to Twain and help support programs to study and promote his legacy.