Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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February 18th
Huckleberry Finn
“I am piling up manuscript in a really astonishing way,” Mark Twain wrote his family in 1883. “I believe I shall complete, in two months, a book which I have been fooling over for seven years. This summer it is no more trouble to me to write than it is to lie.” The book, published on February 18, 1885, turned out to be The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Young Huck’s raft trip down the Mississippi River with the runaway slave, Jim, remains one of the most captivating images of freedom in American literature.

This second night we run between seven and eight hours, with a current that was making over four mile an hour. We catched fish, and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness. It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big still river, laying on our backs, looking up at the stars, and we didn’t ever feel like talking loud, and it warn’t often that we laughed, only a little kind of a low chuckle. . . .

Every night we passed towns, some of them away up on black hillsides, nothing but just a shiny bed of lights, not a house could you see. The fifth night we passed St. Louis, and it was like the whole world lit up. . . . I used to slip ashore, towards ten o’clock, at some little village, and buy ten or fifteen cents’ worth of meal or bacon or some other stuff to eat; and sometimes I lifted a chicken that wasn’t roosting comfortable, and took him along. Pap always said, take a chicken when you get a chance, because if you don’t want him yourself you can easy find somebody that does, and a good deed ain’t ever forgot. . . .

We shot waterfowl, now and then, that got up too early in the morning or didn’t go to bed early enough in the evening. Take it all around, we lived pretty high.

– Chapter XII,
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
American History Parade
1735
The first opera performed in America, Flora, or Hob in the Well, is presented in Charleston, South Carolina.

1841
The first continuous filibuster begins in the Senate and lasts until March 11.

1885
The first American edition of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is published.

1977
The first space shuttle, Enterprise, takes its maiden test flight, attached to the top of a Boeing 747.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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