November 30 Monday – Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910) was born two months premature in the hamlet of Florida, Missouri to John Marshall Clemens (1798-1847) and Jane Lampton Clemens (1803-1890). The baby was named Samuel, for John’s father; Langhorne, for the friend of John Marshall’s who had helped him in his youth in Virginia.
26-year-old Dr. Thomas Jefferson Chowning (1809-1854) delivered baby Sam in the absence of the family physician, Dr. Hugh Meredith (1806-1864). The birthplace was a little frame house on South Mill Street [Wecter 43]. Sam was born sickly. His mother later recalled, “When I first saw him I could see no promise in him” [Powers, MT A Life 8].
Halley’s Comet had reached its perihelion on Nov. 17. It would return again in 1910, reaching its greatest visibility on Apr. 19 of that year, two days before Sam’s death.
John Marshall’s ancestors had come from England to Virginia [Wecter 3-7]. A generation later they moved over the Alleghenies and kept pushing west . Sam’s grandfather, his namesake, was five when America declared independence in 1776. In 1803, the year of the Louisiana Purchase, Samuel B.Clemens (1770-1805) moved west into what would become West Virginia. He had married a Quaker named Pamelia (“Parmelia”) Goggin (1775-1844) and took their first of five children, John Marshall Clemens, named in honor of the first Chief Justice of the U.S. John Marshall married Jane ZZZZLampton on May 6 1823 .
Samuel Langhorne Clemens was the sixth child. The Clemens family moved to Florida, Missouriabout June 1, 1835 from Tennessee [Wecter 39]. Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) was President of the United States, and the Alamo was four months away. The South’s pastoral economy was firmly upheld by slavery and the North’s industrial economy waxed stronger. The early 1830s were a period of inflationary boom. The Federal government encouraged the speculative fever by selling millions of acres of public lands in western states like Michigan and Missouri. The West had spread to the edge of the Great Plains, and like many other families who had not found bounty in the East, the Clemens family moved into Missouri, the outpost of civilization, looking for the good life. Dreams of wealth in such an environment seemed realistic.