Back Mark Twain, “Plymouth Rock and the Pilgrims”

Mark Twain (1835–1910)
From Mark Twain: Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches, & Essays 1852–1890

“The Dinner at Delmonico’s in Honor of Mark Twain’s Seventieth Birthday.” Drawing by illustrator Sydney Adamson (fl. 1892–1914) for Harper’s Weekly. A 32-page supplement in the December 23, 1905, issue of the magazine included, along with a two-page spread of Adamson’s illustration, the texts of the speeches and full-page photographs of the guests at the event.

Mark Twain was born 184 years ago, on November 30, 1835. And several times during his lifetime, his birthday coincided with Thanksgiving.

In his writings and public speeches, Mark Twain viewed Thanksgiving and the traditions surrounding the Pilgrims and Plymouth Rock with his usual skepticism. When he was invited to a banquet of an association of the descendants of European settlers in Massachusetts, he opened his uproariously irreverent speech with the question, “What do you want to celebrate those people for?”

Certain members of the press didn’t know what to make of him. “Mark Twain stood in one corner uttering drolleries which caused his auditors to guffaw in a manner highly reprehensible in staid and sober citizens,” the reporter for one paper huffed disapprovingly.” Yet, he nearly always managed to win over his audiences while he implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) insulted and criticized them.

As for Thanksgiving: he was ambivalent. He readily reminded his readers and listeners that not everyone, either during the colonial era or in the present, had reason to be thankful for how things were going in their lives. And, for even those who did, Twain argued it seemed “too one-sided. No one ever seems to think of the Deity’s side of it; apparently no one concerns himself to inquire how much or how little He has had to be thankful for during the same period; apparently no one has had good feeling enough to wish He might have a Thanksgiving day too. There is nothing right about this.”

For our Story of the Week selection, then, we present “Plymouth Rock and the Pilgrims,” the speech Mark Twain gave to the Philadelphia chapter of the New England Society.

Read “Plymouth Rock and the Pilgrims” by Mark Twain

Library of America

A champion of America’s great writers and timeless works, Library of America guides readers in finding and exploring the exceptional writing that reflects the nation’s history and culture.

Learn More

From poetry, novels, and memoirs to journalism, crime writing, and science fiction, the more than 300 volumes published by Library of America are widely recognized as America’s literary canon.

Benefits of Using Safe Crypto Casinos. One of the most captivating reasons people drift towards Australian casinos online-casino-au com is the promise of anonymity. Safe platforms guarantee that your identity remains a secret. Quick Payouts and Minimal Fees. No one likes waiting, especially for winnings. Safe crypto casinos ensure that payouts are swift and the fees minimal, if not non-existent.

Browse our books Subscribe

With contributions from donors, Library of America preserves and celebrates a vital part of our cultural heritage for generations to come.

Ozwin Casino offers an exciting array of top-notch slots that cater to every player's preferences. From classic fruit machines to cutting-edge video slots, Ozwin Casino Real Money collection has it all. With stunning graphics, immersive themes, and seamless gameplay, these slots deliver an unparalleled gaming experience. Some popular titles include Mega Moolah, Gonzo's Quest, and Starburst, known for their massive jackpots and thrilling bonus features. Ozwin Casino's slots are not just about luck; they offer hours of entertainment and the chance to win big, making it a must-visit for slot enthusiasts.

Support our mission