October 11 - December 10 - Lecture Tour in California and Nevada. "Sandwich Islands" 17 engagements. Partially managed by Denis McCarthy.
I launched out as a lecturer, now, with great boldness. I had the field all to myself, for public lectures were almost an unknown commodity in the Pacific market. They are not so rare, now, I suppose. I took an old personal friend along to play agent for me, and for two or three weeks we roamed through Nevada and California and had a very cheerful time of it.
It would appear from the accounts of Mark Twain's biographers and from Mark Twain's own account in Roughing It and elsewhere that the San Francisco lecture of October 2, 1866, was planned as an isolated event, and the the interval between the decision to lecture and the lecture itself was a matter of only a few days. It would also appear from these accounts that the lecture was planned without reference to any tour following it, and that it was only after the impressive success of that lecture the Mark Twain decided to go on tour. By thus focusing the spotlight upon his first appearance as a public lecturer, a truly momentous turning point in his career, the importance of the event can be dramatically highlighted. The probability is, however, that the decision to lecture in various California and Nevada towns was made in advance of October 2, and that by this date at least some of the arrangements had already been made or were in progress. (Lorch, p 35)
Page 346- 9: The Life of Mark Twain: The Early Years, 1835-1871
When Sam returned from Honolulu, George Barnes remembered, “he was no better off than when he left, except in prestige, and quite in the dark as to his future course.” Or as Sam recalled in Roughing It, “I was home again in San Francisco, without means and without employment.” He accepted occasional reporting assignments for the Sacramento Union, such as covering the California State Fair and reviewing a production of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Il Trovatore at Maguire's Opera House in San Francisco....
“I tortured my brain for a saving scheme of some kind, and at last a public lecture occurred to me! I sat down and wrote one, in a fever of hopeful anticipation.” As he reflected in 1896, “It seemed an easier way of making a living than by journalism; it paid better, and there was less work connected with it.” By the close of the Civil War, in fact, lecturing was an increasingly popular vocation. Virtually every city and town in the country had a local organization, usually a lyceum or literary society, that sponsored a series of six to eight lectures during late fall and winter, As Ralph Waldo Emerson once noted, “a lecture is a new literature, which leaves aside all tradition, time, place, circumstance, & addresses an assembly as mere human beings, no more.” The lyceum circuit during the postwar years gradually (d)evolved from an educational or didactic medium into a form of performance or entertainment. ...
But he was motivated by his empty pockets. “A sensible man lectures only when butter & bread are scarce,” he admitted. He always excoriated those “devils incarnate” who, in the guise of newspaper critics, picked the pockets of public speakers by printing “infernal synopses” of their lectures, thus discouraging people from paying to hear them. But in San Francisco in the fall of 1866, when he launched out as a lecturer with “great boldness,” he was not yet calloused to the risks: “I had the field all to myself, for public lectures were almost an unknown commodity in the Pacific market.” ...
...his friend John McComb of the Alta California encouraged him to push ahead and rent the largest theater in town and “charge a dollar a ticket.” Sam later recalled, “The audacity of the proposition was charming; it seemed fraught with practical worldly wisdom.” Tom Maguire offered his Academy of Music on Pine Street, with a seating capacity of several hundred, for $50 and half the profits of one night and Sam in “sheer desperation” agreed. He soon spent $150 on promoting his appearance “and was the most distressed and frightened creature on the Pacific coast” lest he waste his investment.
From October 2 to November 12th, Sam and Denis McCarthy toured the mining towns of California and Nevada then returned to San Francisco. Sam gave several lectures in the Bay area then on December 15th departed for New York City, arriving there January 12th 1867. It was during this period that Sam became aware of the Quaker City Excursion and convinced the Alta California newspaper to finance his trip. Meanwhile he decided to visit St. Louis and departed New York March 3rd. Sam was back in New York April 16th, gave three lectures in the area and prepared for his voyage to Europe and The Holy Land.
Isaac Gewirtz writes of Twain's political position at this time, in Mark Twain A Skeptic's Progress:
Twain’s efforts on behalf of the American planters did not end with the conclusion of his newspaper assignment and his return to America in late 1866. From then through the late 1860s, he promoted California’s economic interests in the Hawaiian Islands and in China, attempting to affect American policy and investment to that end. His stay in the Sandwich Islands, as the Hawaiian Islands were then known, proved profitable also to him, as his “Sandwich Island Lecture,” the first public lecture that he ever gave, in 1866, in San Francisco, became a staple of the lecture circuit throughout America. Twain’s advocacy on behalf of the Hawaiian sugar planters and powerful mercantile interests in California, who would benefit from an increase in the growth of Hawaii’s sugar exports, went so far, in 1866, as to lead him to recklessly and baselessly charge the British with conspiring to subvert American interests in the Islands, pitting Hawaii’s King Kamehameha V, who wanted stronger ties with Britain, against his supposedly democracy-loving people. As Twain knew, such an allegation was an incitement to a militant, patriotic response in the United States. As he also knew, the Hawaiian sugar planters and missionaries, and California businessmen, were asking the U.S. government to anchor permanently the sloop-of-war U.S.S. Lackawanna in Hawaii in an attempt to intimidate Hawaiians who had British or French sympathies. By February 1867, Twain wrote in his journal that it would be “a good idea to have men-of-war there often,” and by May of that year, in a New York lecture, he even went so far as to advocate American purchase and annexation of the Islands (“Kanakadom”), in imitation of the recent example of the purchase of Alaska from Russia (“our ornamental Russian Possessions”). By late 1867, however, he was willing to forego that option if a treaty reducing sugar tariffs, being considered by the Congress, should be approved. (The proposed treaty was defeated.) But it was not until December 1872 that Twain condemned the purchase/annexation movement, in a letter to the New York Tribune written with the sarcastic flair characteristic of the anti-imperialist writings of the last twenty years of his life. Under the heading “Why We Should Annex,” Twain mockingly argues that if we “annex these people,” “We can afflict them with our wise and beneficent governments. We can introduce the novelty of thieves [. . .] and show them how amusing it is to arrest them and try them and then turn them loose—some for cash and some for ‘political influence.’ We can make them ashamed of their simple and primitive justice. [. . .] We can make that little bunch of sleepy islands the hottest corner on earth, and array it in the moral splendor of our high and holy civilization [. . .].” Still, despite this reversal regarding outright annexation, as late as 1873, in a lecture he gave at New York’s Steinway Hall, Twain advocated American colonization of Hawaii, urging his audience to go to Hawaii and become sugar planters.
Gewirtz then writes:
In the matter of Hawaiian democracy, however, Twain reversed himself within a matter of months of having praised the American missionaries’ inculcation of “democratic Puritanism” among the aboriginal population. ...
Twain, in a September 1866 issue of the Sacramento Daily Union, published a letter in which he wrote that the King, who in reformulating the constitution had said that his people were not yet ready for full democracy, had done “a wise thing.” It would seem that on this point Twain’s skepticism triumphed over his idealistic hopes for exporting the fruits of Western progress to other lands and peoples. Like the Hawaiian monarch, Twain thought it foolish to introduce a foreign form of governance into a culture that had no familiarity with its principles. (That both Twain and the King were Masons may have helped influence Twain favorably toward the latter’s views.) It is impossible to read such statements without recalling that in the American South, the same argument was raging in regard to the enfranchising of blacks, and that it would continue to be a prominent topic in national politics at least through the late 1870s, that is, during the abolition of Reconstruction and in its immediate aftermath. Not only the great majority of white Southerners, but many Northern whites who had found slavery abhorrent, such as Walt Whitman, thought it dangerous to give blacks the vote, since they were, it was argued, unready, or unfit by nature, to participate fully in civic life.