Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1, Page 306…

mark-twain-portraitHelping to raise $1.8 million for Booker T. Washington and his Tuskegee Institute, at which “students are not merely furnished a book education but are taught 37 useful trades,” the 70-year-old Twain delivers a speech at a Carnegie Hall benefit. Twain wonders aloud what knowledge he can possibly impart that a Tuskegee student would not became aware of as a result of their studies. Here is what he concludes their educaiton will not include:

“There are two separate and distinct kinds of Christian morals, so separate, so distinct, so unrelated that they are no more kin to each other than are archangels and politicians. The one kind is Christian private morals, the other is Christian public morals.

“The loyal observance of Christian private morals has made this nation what it is – a clean and upright people in its private domestic life, an honest and honorable people in its private commercial life; no alien nation can claim superiority over it in these regards, no critic, foreign or domestic, can challenge the validity of this truth.

“During 363 days in the year the American citizen is true to his Christian private morals and keeps undefiled the nation’s character at its best and highest; then in the other two days of the year he leaves his Christian private morals at home and carries his Christian public morals to the tax office and the polls and does the best he can to damage and undo his whole year’s faithful and righteous worth.

“Without a blush he will vote for an unclean boss if that boss is his party’s Moses, without compunction he will vote against the best man in the whole land if he is on the other ticket. Every year, in a number of cities and states, he helps put corrupt men in office, every year he helps to extend the corruption wider and wider; year after year he goes on gradually rotting the country’s political life, whereas if he would but throw away his Christian public morals and carry his Christian private morals to the polls he could promptly purify the public service and make the possession of office a high and honorable distinction and one to be coveted by the very best men the country could furnish.

“But now – well, now he contemplates his unpatriotic work and sighs and grieves and blames every man but the right one – which is himself.”


Filed under: California History

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