Submitted by scott on Wed, 10/13/2021 - 00:23
Image
Start Date
End Date

Sam Clemens seems to have had a change of personality at the time of his move to Buffalo.  Money has always preoccupied him, throughout his life and is a common factor in much of his writings. But his move to Buffalo marks a change from a humanistic bent to one of allegiance to big business.  See this from Scharnhorst Pages 512-4  The Life of Mark Twain: The Early Years, 1835-1871:

He certainly took his duties seriously, at least at first. Unlike the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, the Buffalo Express could not survive on advertising revenue alone. It was the smallest of three local English-language dailies, with a circulation a decade later estimated at about four thousand compared to the forty-three hundred of the Courier and the sixty-five hundred of the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser. Then again, the Express had the most room to grow. No longer a beat reporter but a co-owner, Sam shared responsibility for making payroll in a competitive market. That is, he could not afford to be a genial, permissive employer like Goodman of the Enterprise, a newspaper that faced far fewer financial challenges than the Express. Berry remembered that Sam was “a quiet, reserved and irritable man’ who “gave his fellow citizens little opportunity to annoy him with their attentions or questions.” Similarly, Selkirk reminisced in 1925 that Sam ‘confined his humor to his writings. He was a very ordinary chap otherwise and was not given to wise cracking or the amusement of his associates.”

Sam was also quick to introduce some changes to the paper. He worked with the print shop foreman to eliminate scare headlines by reducing their font size and in consequence, he bragged, “the paper is vastly improved in appearance. I have annihilated all the glaring thunder-&-lightning headings over the telegraphic news & made that department look quiet & respectable.”

He schooled the news staff in a more objective writing style: to “modify the adjectives, curtail their philosophical reflections & leave out the slang.” As a first-time employer, Sam cracked the proverbial whip over his underlings.  He never suffered fools gladly, but he managed his Buffalo staff by a set of rules more like those he had known in San Francisco than in Virginia City.  That is, the Express was necessarily run on more strictly business principles than the Enterprise. “The manner in which he wielded the journalistic scepter was more that of an impatient autocrat than an humble American citizen, according to Berry. “No man detested loafers more than Mr. Clemens, and assuredly no man could be more pitiless in his treatment of bores. He was vigorous in his denunciation of that class of people who aimlessly and impudently intrude their constant presence in an editorial room.”

Sam also shifted the editorial position of the Express, a nominally Republican paper, vis-a-vis a local coal monopoly of which Jervis Langdon’s company was a part. Whereas the Express had previously defended a citizen cooperative organized to sell cheap coal, as soon as Sam became its managing editor the newspaper muted its criticism of the Anthracite Coal Association and indicted the “unreasonable demands” of the coal miners’ union. “Up to the present time,’ he announced in an unsigned editorial in the August 20 issue, “we have heard only the people's side of the coal question, though there could be no doubt that the coal men had a side also.” In the same issue, the Express printed a letter from John De La Fletcher Slee, Jervis Langdon's manager in Buffalo, defending the practices of the association. On September 1 the Buffalo Courier noted that a “change seems to have come over” the Express “in reference to the coal monopoly” and asked “the reason for it.” Sam complained to Livy about this “sneaking little communication,” grumbled that the “effrontery of these people transcends everything I ever heard of,” and warned that if George Deuther, one of the organizers of the Citizen's Mutual Coal Mining, Purchasing, and Sale Company, “don’t go mighty slow I will let off a blast at him some day that will lift the hair off his head & loosen some of his teeth.” He planned to protect at all costs the interests of his financial angel and future father-in-law. That is, in the first weeks of his part ownership of the Express Sam seemed ready to sacrifice democratic principle to his newfound sobriety and respectability, The following March he published a second unsigned, pro-monopoly, antilabor editorial in the paper in which he decried “the spectacle of a legislature delivering into the hands of an irresponsible mob the actual control of property belonging wholly to their employers.” In this article Sam betrayed the same anti-Hibernian prejudice first evident in his reporting for the San Francisco Morning Call in late 1864. Much as the Irish had threatened the Chinese in California, the Molly Maguires, an organization dominated by Irish activists, were “an irresponsible society of men who hold meetings, pass laws, and enforce them by the agencies of terrorism and blood” in the coal mining districts of Pennsylvania.“’ During his courtship, that is, Sam began to express a brand of antiunion rhetoric at odds with his normal affinity for the working class.
 

From page 531:

Joe Goodman, who visited the Clemenses in Buffalo in April 1870, was flabbergasted by the changes he witnessed in Sam's behavior since the Virginia City days, particularly his adherence to mid-Victorian standards of bourgeois respectability. 


It took a series of tragic events to take Sam out of this mindset.

Mark Twain, in Buffalo and feels he will no longer need to take to the platform.

 To James Redpath
10 May 1870 • Elmira, N.Y.
Friend Redpath,—

I guess I am out of the field permanently. I am sending off these circulars to all lecture applicants now. If you want some more of them I can send them to you—for they are very convenient for you to mail to people save penmanship.

Have got a lovely wife, a lovely house, bewitchingly furnished, a lovely carriage,& a coachman whose style dignity are simply awe-inspiring—nothing less & I am making more money than necessary, by considerable, & therefore why crucify myself nightly on the platform. The subscriber will have to be excused from the present season at least.

Remember me to Nasby, Billings & Fall. Luck to you! I am going to print your menagerie, Parton and all, and make comments.

In next Galaxy I give Nasby’s friend and mine from Philadelphia (John Quill, a literary thief) a “hyste.” I don’t consider that the Rev. Talmage has the weather gage of me yet.

Yours always & after,

Mark.


By September 11th of 1869, Sam had changed his mind regarding the lecture circuit and began his "Our Fellow Savages" tour until January 21, 1870.  He married February 2, 1870 and was soon living in a mansion on Delaware Avenue.

For a in depth study of Mark Twain's life in Buffalo, NY see Scribblin' For A Livin' by Thomas Reigstad.

All too soon events, and a dissatisfaction with his situation bring about a change of mind.   Olivia became pregnant, but was devastated when her father was diagnosed with stomach cancer and died on Aug. 6, 1870:  Emma Nye, a dear friend of Olivia’s who was visiting, was stricken with typhoid fever and died in their home Sept. 29: Finally, their son, Langdon, was born prematurely Nov. 7, frail and sickly, and Olivia fell ill with typhoid herself.

They had had enough. Olivia was carried out of their home on a mattress to the train station for the trip to Elmira. Both the home and Twain’s stake in the Express were sold at a loss.

August 15 Sunday – Sam officially became a writing editor of the Express, offering sketches and editorials. This began a period of eighteen months in Buffalo that marked a transition from sometime journalist to celebrated author. (DBD)

Sam’s article, “The Danger of Lying in Bed,” which also appeared in the Feb. 1871 issue of the Galaxy, was printed in the Buffalo Express [McCullough 281]. This was the last known article Sam published in the Buffalo Express. (DBD)

“We are selling our dwelling & everything here & are going to spend the summer in Elmira while we build a house in Hartford. Eight months sickness & death in one place is enough for Yrs Truly” [MTL 4: 347].

Type of Feedback