Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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November 30th
Mark Twain on Foreign Critics
Mark Twain, born November 30, 1835, was a loving critic of his country, usually with humor. (“There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress,” he once observed.) But disdain for America by European snobs raised his hackles. In an 1890 address in Boston, he let loose.

If I look harried and worn, it is not from an ill conscience. It is from sitting up nights to worry about the foreign critic. He won’t concede that we have a civilization – a “real” civilization. . . . [H]e said we had never contributed anything to the betterment of the world. . . .

What is a “real” civilization? [Let us suppose it is one without despotic government and near-universal inequality, ignorance, and poverty. In that case] there are some partial civilizations scattered around Europe – pretty lofty civilizations they are, but who begot them? What is the seed from which they sprang? Liberty and intelligence. What planted that seed? There are dates and statistics which suggest that it was the American Revolution that planted it. When that revolution began, monarchy had been on trial some thousands of years, over there, and was a distinct and convicted failure. . . . [W]e hoisted the banner of revolution and raised the first genuine shout for human liberty that had ever been heard. . . .

Who summoned the French slaves to rise and set the nation free? We did it. What resulted in England and on the Continent? Crippled liberty took up its bed and walked. From that day to this its march has not halted, and please God it never will. We are called the nation of inventors. And we are. We could still claim that title and wear its loftiest honors, if we had stopped with the first thing we ever invented – which was human liberty. . . . We have contributed nothing! Nothing hurts me like ingratitude.
American History Parade
1782
In Paris the British sign a preliminary treaty recognizing American independence.

1829
The First Welland Canal opens, connecting Lakes Erie and Ontario.

1835
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) is born in Florida, Missouri.

1864
Confederate troops suffer devastating losses at the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee.

1943
At the Tehran Conference, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin agree on an invasion of Europe, code-named Operation Overlord.
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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