Mark Twain: Anti-Imperialism Against False Flag Ventures

Naval Gun Crew in the Spanish-American War
Naval Gun Crew in the Spanish-American War | Source

Funny But Dangerous - Twain and Martin

The anti-imperialist writings of Mark Twain are not usually presented in K-12, those classroom teachers and administration opting for only his Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer creations, along with a few humorous essays. In college classes and independent research, however, the student can become aware that the humorous man belies a strong core of opinion and substance. Researchers at all levels can find reference to and copies of Twain essays on anti-imperialism in local university and college archives and libraries, and within certain Internet sites - but not likely in the town public- or high school libraries. I have also found them at Half Price Books stores. Once being found, however, they must be discussed in an open forum or they will continue to have the appearance of having been erased from history. They are still there, but few are looking for them.

One must be pretty smart in order to be so funny...so stupid...so talentless . That has proved true in many cases. Jack Benny with his squeaky TV violin was a talented classical violinist. Jackie Vernon, the horrid trumpet mangler, and the drunk Crazy Guggenheim (singer Frank Fontaine) on the Jackie Gleason Show were virtuosos of instrument and voice. Comedians Jerry Lewis and Steve Martin are almost frightening in their dramatic talents --

Mark Twain

It was Steve Martin that said before and during the presentation of the Mark Twain Award to him in 2005 that he would not accept it on the sole basis of his comedy repertoire.

We know that Mark Twain was a humorist, but we know that he also wrote seriously and was strongly anti-imperialist well from 1898 - forward.

Steve Martin is not only a comedian, but a talented musician, writer, and thinker as well. He mentioned several times since 2005 that he received only two awards to date - one in 1969 (for writing on the political Smothers Brothers Show ) and one in 2005. Perhaps intelligent humorists are sometimes too dangerous to the status quo and attempts are made to diminish them.

Eisenhower: January 17, 1961

Eisenhower's Farewell to Office

Dwight D. Eisenhower's final speech as President of the United States was a warning to the public against the Military Industrial Complex.

From 1961 - 2011, his warnings have not seemed to be largely heeded, although increasing numbers of people are bringing them out for a look via YouTube. Mark Twain gave similar warnings after the Spanish American War.

Further, historian Caleb Carr offers these views in his series of books containing The Alienist and Dark Angel in the late 1800s - including Teddy Roosevelt and the events leading to what looks like a false flag entry into the Spanish American War.

It appears to some historians that the US Government was looking for any excuse to enter that war. See the video to the right, below.

False Flag

A summary, information available from naval history and on DemocraticUnderground.com and others:

Ships at sea would fly the colors (flags) of other nations in order to produce attacks against those countries - a sort of twist on the game Let's You and Him Fight in the "Games People Play" rubrick (eric Berne, 1964). Flying another nation's flag at sea is flying a false flag. The false flag operation is a covert one that misleads the public into the belief that the operation is being conducted by another country(ies). It is also called an inside job . and has been applied by conspiracy theorists to the 9/11 World Trade Center disaster and others.

A Partial Bibliography of Mark Twain's Anti-Imperialist Writings

Best reference:

Mark Twain's Weapons of Satire. Jim Zwick, Ed.1992. - Materials gathered from the Mark Twain Project

Quoted Abstract:
Founded in 1898, the Anti-Imperialist League mobilized opposition to the Philippine-American War, still one of the most controversial wars in U.S. history. Until his death in 1910, Mark Twain was a vice president of the League and the most prominent literary opponent of the war. “We have got into a mess, a quagmire,” he said in 1900. In this collection of essays, Jim Zwick, editor of the first collection of Mark Twain’s writings on the war, explores the history of the Anti-Imperialist League, Twain’s anti-imperialist writings, and their continuing influence and relevance today. Reference: http://www.buybooksontheweb.com/Product.aspx?ISBN=0-7414-4410-0.

In addition:

Anticipating 1898: Writings of US Empire on Puerto Rico, Cuba, Hawa'ii, and the Philippines. Ivonne Marie Garcia, 2009. Dissertation. The Ohio State University, Columbus OH.

Confronting Imperialism: Essays on Mark Twain and the Anti-Imperialist League. Articles byTracy Wuster and Jim Zwick. Mark Twain Annual, 2008, Vol. 6 Issue 1, p 121.

Mark Twain on American Imperialism. Atlantic, 1992, Vol. 269, No. 4, p 49. Cover story. Abstract: Author Mark Twain was a vice-president of the Anti-Imperialist League and a critic of the policies that led to the Spanish-American War. Twain also opposed the Philippine-American War that began in 1899.

The Blessings of Civilization: Mark Twain's Anti-Imperialism and the Annexation of the Hawai‘ian Islands. James E. Caron. Mark Twain Annual, 2008, Vol. 6, Issue 1, pp 51-63

The Autobiography

Mark Twain Autobiography a Surprise Bestseller --


  • Mark Twain had a very tender heart. He liked to say nasty things and he was very good at saying nasty things, but he really didn't want to hurt anybody's feelings. And he himself didn't want to be shunned because of his extraordinary opinions.

Liberty and American Anti-Imperialism

Unfortunately, Jim Zwick died in 2008. This may offer a possibility of his work and Twain's anti-imperialist works to once again be pushed to the background of history. However, the Mark Twain Journal and a number of Dissertations concerning Twain and Anti-Imperialism are published every year.

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Comments 29 comments

MichaelStonehill profile image

MichaelStonehill 5 years ago

Well, the content of the works of serious humorists is often misunderstood. For instance, Charlie Chaplin's highly successful films "City Lights" and "Modern Times" contain a strong social criticism on modern economics.

So are the comedy films of Frank Capra. Only writers or artists of great talent do succeed to express opinions, which are not politically-correct, in a subtle manner.


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 5 years ago from Northern, California

Patty, this is amazing information. I was absolutely unaware of Mark Twain's political genius. I have always been a fan of his popular literary offerings, but am thrilled to see the options you provide for further study of his intelligent and savvy political chops.

Interesting that Steve M. holds his dramatic IQ in such high regard; being his fortune was made on the back of his brilliantly obscure sense of humor. Einstein was said to be a very funny guy with one of the more astute sense of humors of his time. Personally, I find smart and funny very intriguing indeed (and very attractive)

Thank you for writing this piece today, I am fascinated to no end!

Way up and obviously awesome~

K9


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

It's a good way to celebrate the 4th of July by remembering that we can question our own government and society. Chaplin and Capra - geniuses, no doubt.

K9 - Fascinating, isn't it? I look for Steve to begin producing political dramas at some point. Or at least a book of satire with political cartoons.


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica

As a child Huckleberry Fin and Tom Sawyer were favorites of mine, I had no idea Mar Twain had a serious or political/philosophical side. Thanks for the information.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

I was surprised to find another autobiography of Mark Twain, copyright 1959 and 1972 in the bookstore today. Edited by Charles Nedier, it is thick but has no mention of the anti-imperialist views. I'm looking for the 2010 version, which is likely more realistic.


Jeff May profile image

Jeff May 5 years ago from St. Louis

Excellent, concise, and clear presentation of Twain's anti-imperialism. Enjoyed this. Thanks.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

Mark Twain has never been entirely politically correct.Right now there are school districts who want a censored version of Mark Twain, which only shows that educators do not know what the man was all about. There is much sharp social and political criticism in Huckleberry Finn. It is not really a children's book.

In my day there were Mark Twain books that were not on the open stacks in the University library because they were too risque.


Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren Morgan M-T 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

Love this! As a teen and eraly-20s person my alltime favorite literary work was Twain's T"The Mysterious Stranger." It is very dark and cynical of humans.


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 5 years ago

Dearest Patty,

This is a wonderful Hub and so timely on Independence Day! Yes, yes, yes we must always question and participate in our government and the actions it takes in our names!

I too, am familiar with the more political side to Twain thanks to McAvoy Layne! Also known as "The Ghost of Twain" for the last twenty three years!

Layne, in a life-altering accident, trapped inside an avalanche-covered house for many days, was freezing but safe! When he emerged, thanks to the non-stop efforts of amazing rescue teams, he was "Twain!"

Like the real Twain his humor belies a very serious political message for people to wake up! Being American is to be proactive in the affairs of government!

http://marktwainculturalcenter.org/?page_id=145

Wonderful Hub Patty! It reminds me that a bit of humor goes a long way to getting more serious messages across!

Blessings to you wonder woman! Earth Angel!


susannah42 profile image

susannah42 5 years ago from Florida

Good Hub, very enjoyable reading.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

@EA - I need to look up McAvoy Layne and read his materials!

@dah... -- Yes, removing the racial slurs is ridiculous, since he put them in, in order to highlight the harm done by them and to illustrate the period culture.


montecristodog 5 years ago

Well researched. Thanks for the info.


Silver Poet profile image

Silver Poet 5 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer

I am familiar with the book by Eric Berne. In fact, I own a copy. I knew that some of the things that were written by Twain could be quite depressing, but you've brought out still more to his complicated character. Excellent hub.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

Hal Holbrook has done his one-man show Mark Twain Tonight for over 60 years. I was very ill for a short time in high school and watching a television presentation of this show made me laugh and caused a turn for the better in my condition. I feel that it saved my life. Watching a video of the presentation a few years ago, I did not recall the words, but suddenly I felt as if I'd been struck by lightening with familiarity of the Twain spirit. The remarks contained humor and politics, sacrcasm and sincerity, and the deep human qualities of both Twain and the actor. Many older people in the first half of the 20th Centiury felt that Holbrook captured the man entirely.

One quote from Twain I have always remembered. He said that when his wife died, he did not have any one to play with any more.

Some of his writing may make some depressed and some of his remarks were sarcastic for a purpose. However, some critics say that he was a nasty and grudging man by trait and they do not know what they are talking about.


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 5 years ago

Dearest Patty,

So glad the laughter proved beneficial to your young health and that you are still with us today! The world is a better place with you in it!

Blessings to you! Earth Angel!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

I wonder if Twain knew about Laughter Clubs? Rather, he WAS one.


A C Witschorik 5 years ago

Great Hub, Very interesting and informative. I'll be checking out more of Twains writings


DynamicS profile image

DynamicS 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Patty, thanks for sharing such informative post about mark Twain. Like most people, I'm familiar with Hucklebery Fin and Tom Sawywer. I had no idea that he was an anti-imperialist. I have even more respect for him.

Thanks for a well researched post. Rated up.


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

Seldon55 has written a poem about censoring Huckleberry Finn. One of the responses is that anyone who think it shouldn't be censored is a racist. Well, this is an example of why it sometimes better not to follow every hub for which you post a comment.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

OMG - I think that commentor does not know Mark Twain as well as he/she thinks. Anyway --

In my GED classes, an African American teacher colleague was livid that A-A students would call each other "n****r", but if a white student used that term, a fight would break out.


platinumOwl4 profile image

platinumOwl4 5 years ago

Patty I don't know what made me pick this article today. However, it is fantastic and absolutely correct I have all of this information. I read the farewell speech and that part will always stick out in my mind. I have read of the Maine, The Lusitania and other question able adventure by our government. Mark twain rocks along with George Carlin.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

And Carlin received the Mark Twain Award as well.


WesternHistory profile image

WesternHistory 5 years ago from California

This is an interesting post. Mark Twain was a man with many careers including commercial journalism and I'm sure he had economic opinions as many people had and still have. Samuel Clemens took on the name Mark Twain while he served as a journalist in Virginia City Nevada for the territories' only newspaper. He worked in Virginia City during the silver mines boom era. He came across a lot of characters in that environment and I'm sure he developed some opinions from that episode in his life.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

I look forward to you writing a Hub on his life and development. Welcome to HubPages.


Old Empresario 5 years ago

Wow, you are well-deserved Hubpages Elite! What a great Hub on a topic that is never discussed regarding Mark Twain. And I never knew the level of Steve Martin's depth regarding these issues. I've read Twain's imperialist essays and am sad that they have been supressed. But thanks for using this forum to help keep them alive.


David Paul Wagner profile image

David Paul Wagner 3 years ago from Sydney, Australia

A great hub. Mark Twain's powerful anti-war essay, "The Person Sitting in Darkness" (1901), still makes riveting reading.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

He wrote some very important material that we need to read today. Thanks for your comment!


jainismus profile image

jainismus 3 years ago from Pune, India

Interesting Hub . He is one of my most favorite authors.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

Thanks for commenting! Twain has quite a lot of work to read.

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