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Mark TwainPreacher, Prophet, and Social Philosopher$
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Gary Scott Smith

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780192894922

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780192894922.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 October 2021



Life along and on the Mississippi

(p.15) 2 1835–1860
Mark Twain

Gary Scott Smith

Oxford University Press

Twain was reared in Hannibal, a very religious small town in Missouri by a Presbyterian mother and a freethinking father. The “Presbyterian conscience” he developed as a youth deeply affected him throughout his life. Twain’s experiences in Sunday school and church and difficult childhood that included the loss of his father and two older siblings, fear of dying, and observations of drownings, murder, and mayhem are featured in many of his writings. Both Twain and many scholars have misrepresented the Calvinism that was preached and taught in antebellum Hannibal by portraying it as denying human free agency, preaching a prosperity gospel, damning the vast majority of people to perdition, and focusing on hell. Twain was especially affected by the death of his younger brother Henry as a result of a steamboat explosion when Twain was 22.

Keywords:   Calvinism, Sunday school, free agency, Jane Clemens, Henry Clemens, religious upbringing

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