Submitted by scott on Thu, 09/22/2022 - 10:47

September 23 Monday – Norfolk, Va. Sam introduced Rear Admiral Purnell Frederick Harrington (1844-1937) at the Robert Fulton Day ceremonies. The New York Times, Sept. 24 covered the event:



Inventor’s Use of Steam in Navigation Shown in Marine Parade.

NORFOLK, Va., Sept. 23.—Elaborate ceremonies marked today’s observance of Robert Fulton Day at the Jamestown Exposition. Of the many historical events commemorated by the tercentennial, none has been of greater importance and deeper significance than the celebration of the practical application of Robert Fulton’s inventions to the needs of the world.

While the exercises were under the direction of the exposition officials, added prominence was given them by the participation of the Robert Fulton Monument Association. The orator of the day was Martin W. Littleton of Brooklyn, N. Y.

Cornelius Vanderbilt, the President of the association came from New York on his yacht North Star, and Dr. Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) came on the yacht Kanawha, each being accompanied by a party of guests. Rear Admiral P. F. Harrington, U. S. N., retired, headed the committee appointed to receive the distinguished guests.

A spectacular feature of the celebration was a typical representation of what the inventions of Robert Fulton meant to the world. It was the assembling in Hampton Roads, just off the exposition grounds of every sort of craft propelled by steam. The vessels, of all sizes and description, all ablaze with flags and bunting, formed a marine parade which was reviewed by the guests from the decks of the visiting yachts.

The day’s programme included the award of the cups presented by President Roosevelt, King Edward, and Sir Thomas Lipton for the winners in the various classes of yacht races.

The formal exercises in the Auditorium were called to order by Robert Fulton Cutting of New York in a brief address, which concluded with the introduction of Mark Twain as Chairman and master of ceremonies. Following remarks by the Chair, and preceding an oration by Mr. Littleton, there were addresses by President Tucker of the exposition, Lieut. Gov. Ellyson of Virginia, Hugh Gordon Miller of New York, and Rear Admiral Harrington, U. S. N., in charge of the navy’s participation in the exposition.

A dinner was held in the New York State building at night. Pyrotechnic displays closed the celebration. Paine writes of Sam making a new friend, the orator of the event, Martin W. Littleton:

He was invited to be a special guest at the Jamestown Exposition on Fulton Day, in September, and Mr. Rogers lent him his yacht in which to make the trip. It was a break in the summer’s monotonies, and the Jamestown honors must have reminded him of those in London. When he entered the auditorium where the services were to be held there was a demonstration which lasted more than five minutes. Every person in the hall rose and cheered, waving handkerchiefs and umbrellas. He made them a brief, amusing talk on Fulton and other matters, then introduced Admiral Harrington, who delivered a masterly address and was followed by Martin W. Littleton, the real orator of the day. Littleton acquitted himself so notably that Mark Twain conceived for him a deep admiration, and the two men quickly became friends. They saw each other often during the remainder of the Jamestown stay, and Clemens, learning that Littleton lived just across Ninth Street from him in New York, invited him to come over when he had an evening to spare and join the billiard games [MTB 1406]. Note: Martin Wiley Littleton (1872- 1934), attorney, became a NY Congressman, holding office 1911-1913.

Sam inscribed a picture of Fulton’s steamboat Clermont to Harry Windsor Dearborn. At the top of the picture he wrote: “Mr. H.W. Dearborn with the affectionate regards of Mark Twain, Sept. 23/07”; below the picture he wrote his aphorism about taking the pledge improving bad liquor [MTP: Am. Arts Assoc. Galleries catalogs, No. 4180, 8-9 May 1935, Item 68].  

Robert Underwood Johnson wrote to Sam asking about a story of a boy who ran away from home for only a few hours, then sneaked back into his kitchen and said to his mother, “I see you’ve got the same old cat!” Was this one of Sam’s tales? [MTP]. Note: Lyon wrote for Sam on the letter, “I am acquainted with the story but it is not a story of mine”; “Answd. Sept. 30, ‘07”

Roi Cooper Megrue for Elisabeth Marbury wrote to Lyon, thanking for permission to dramatize “Aurelia’s Unfortunate Young Man”; Twain’s tales were “all the rage in Paris” [MTP].

Charles Pfeifer from Baltimore wrote a long, rambling letter to ask Sam’s advice about his writing, and a begging letter asking for work around Sam’s house with which he might support his father [MTP]. Note: Lyon wrote on the letter, “Answd. Sept. 30, ‘07”

Edwin L. Sabin wrote from Denver, Colo. to ask Sam for some accounts of his recent visit abroad, which might help Sabin fulfill a discussion for an article of “the merits and characteristics of the American style of humor” contrasted with the British [MTP]. Note: Lyon wrote on the letter, “Answd. Sept 30, 07”

Christine Brown Wheeler wrote from Boston to appeal to Sam for the homeless, to talk with him the next time he was in Boston [MTP]. Note: Lyon wrote on the letter, “Would like to be able to grant her request”



Day By Day Acknowledgment

Mark Twain Day By Day was originally a print reference, meticulously created by David Fears, who has generously made this work available, via the Center for Mark Twain Studies, as a digital edition.