Samuel Clemens

Samuel Clemens (popularly referred to as Mark Twain) was a renowned literary writer and staunch unionist who live in the late 19th century born to John Clemens and Jane Lampton. His father was a practicing lawyer and storekeeper. During this period, the surest way of achieving status in society was to have material wealth. John Clemens was a busy and ambitious man who set his eyes on achieving the highest social status. Some of the indicators of wealth included owning slaves, large families and huge tracts of land. “To own more than twenty slaves was exceptional and a mark of high standing.”(pp3).For years, the Clemens family followed the Native American movement from town to town in search of wealth. In 1826, Clemens purchased seventy five thousand hectares of land in eastern Tennessee. This earned John Clemens the social title of squire. The economic downturn of 1830 affected the Clemens' family adversely and they had to move again, this time to Hannibal, Missouri. In this period slaves were owned like property. This can be illustrated by John Clemens' statements when he tried to sell one slave. “The highest price I had offered for him in New Orleans was $50...I expect to sell him for whatever he will bring.”(pp4). In his youth, Samuel accepted slavery as a part of life but he later came to understand and despise the slave trade.

After the death of his father, Samuel apprenticed himself as a printer. He later moved to New York and Philadelphia to try his luck in the search for fortune and wealth. One of the events that greatly influenced Samuel's life was the civil war of 1860's. He went from being a steamboat pilot, to a Marion ranger, an assistant to his older brother and back to his original calling, writing.

Explain Mark Twain’s feeling about the great Industrialist of the day, and discuss some of his own attempts to gain financial fortune.

From 1867 Samuel was the private secretary of Senator William Stewart of Nevada. This position gave him a chance to observe critically the national politics that resulted after the attainment of independence. Samuel was shocked by the staggering amounts of bribery, corruption and immorality in government. Like many other Americans of the gilded age, Samuel Clemens was highly critical of the modernization of the United States by machines and millionaires. Despite his criticism, Samuel delighted in a grandiose lifestyle funded by his writing and his wife's substantial inheritance. Twain's desire for wealth led him to make a number of bad investments that led him to bankruptcy. One such bad investment was in a typesetting and printing machine designed by James Paige.

Individuals like Gifford Pinchot and Theodore Roosevelt did not need to work. Explain some of the factors that led to their choices of careers in public service.

Gifford Pinchot was born on August 11, 1865 to James Pinchot and Mary Jane Eno. His family had a firm position in the uppermost social and economic echelon of nineteenth century America. For people like Gifford, it was highly unlikely that they would dedicate their lives to serving the American Public. Gifford had the privilege of attending the best schools in the country (Philip's Exeter academy and Yale) in order to polish his brain and prepare him for financial success. In spite of his strong political connections and financial power, Gifford felt that his heart needed him to participate in public reformation. He chose one victim of capitalistic exploitation that was closest to his heart: the American forest. Since forestry as a course was not offered in United States colleges, Gifford went to Britain and France after his graduate studies to find out more about forestry. He later started a forestry consultancy service in New York City, which enjoyed a lot of success from advising state and private clients. “Despite these successes, Pinchot wanted more. He set his sights on changing the nation's attitude toward s wasteful consumption of forests.”(pp67).

How did the 1890 U.S Census Report, which declared there was no more frontier, help place Gifford Pinchot’s forestry ideas into practice?

 The Forest Reserve Act of 1891 gave the president power to withdraw private sale and convert any land held by the federal government into forest reserve. Within a few months, this law brought positive changes to Gifford's campaign; more than thirteen million acres had been declared part of the forest reserve. In June 1897, the Forest management Act was passed due to lobbying by conservation groups led by Gifford and Muir.

What techniques did Henry ford incorporate to turn his small automobile company into giant motor company?

Henry Ford was a natural born mechanic. From an early age, was obsessed with taking apart toys and finding out how they worked. Henry's fascination and passion is illustrated by an incident from his childhood when he first saw a steam-driven train. His undying passion for engines led him to seek work in one of the many factories in Detroit. Here, he learned and absorbed a lot of knowledge about the mechanics of engines. In the 1890's there was a lot of competition brought by the industrial revolution. Henry Ford was among many other brilliant minds who sought to build a self-propelled vehicle. This dream was inspired by two major breakthroughs: designing of the bicycle and emergence of an efficient gasoline engine. Drawing inspiration from these two inventions, Ford immersed himself in his work trying to design a self-propelled vehicle. His efforts were rewarded in June of 1896 when he fired up his invention and sped off into the night. Using his invention, Ford looked for associates and financial backing. He achieved both goals when he was made chief engineer on Detroit automobile company.

With a few investors, Ford began the Ford Motor Company. The company was fueled to staggering success by Henry Ford's vision. His vision was to make inexpensive but honest cars that would be affordable to most Americans. The only way to achieve this vision was by devising a method to produce vehicles in bulk. This entailed being able to produce similar parts of a car using semi-skilled labor and then assemble all the parts later. Drawing heavily and by refining the principles of scientific management, Ford was able to manufacture vehicles for as low as $850. “This comparatively low price was the chief reason for the company's early record of sales and profit.” (pp98). The industrial revolutionists such as Ford faced a lot of problems from labor unions. There was constant pressure to reduce working hours, improve working conditions, and provide workman's compensation and other benefits. Furthermore, Henry Ford suffered adversely from the effects of high labor turnover and cost of training. Ford reacted to this by unveiling a brilliant policy that facilitated profit sharing between the company and its laborers. This new strategy led to quadrupling of sales. Furthermore, the Ford automobile company relied heavily on corporate financing and were able to expand faster than other competitors. Ford ensured that he passed on the benefits of mass production to the consumers in terms of lower prices for the vehicles. For instance, in the 1920's, the model T cost $290, which was very affordable to many consumers all over the world.

In what ways was Henry ford a symbol for the age of 1920s? How does ford optimise the ambivalence of many Americans regarding modernity?

Henry Ford was a household name in the 1920's. This is because his auto-mobiles were a symbol of the impeding and unstoppable changes in lifestyle for most Americans. In spite of all the fame and fortune, and being at the helm of the new era, Henry Ford still held on tight to his traditional American mentality. This gave many Americans the strength to ignore communism and stick to their search for wealth as capitalists. In many instances, as was the case with most Americans, Ford was unable to choose between the old and the new eras. Ford ended up having an intense repulsion for any thing that was un-American. The most common victims of his repulsion were immigrants.

What influences were most important in the development of king’s philosophy of non-violent resistance regarding civil rights?

Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15th 1929, at a time when the prospects for black Americans was far from promising as a result of the hideous acts of racial discrimination on African-Americans. In spite of the racial discrimination, the First World War empowered the Blacks. It gave them courage to fight for civil rights and put an end to racial discrimination. Martin Luther's fight for justice for black Americans was guided by a philosophy of non violence. This philosophy has been instilled in him from childhood since his father had been a church minister. Martin's Christian teachings had taught him that violence was not a good way to solve problems. This philosophy was further cemented in him in college after reading about India's Mahatma Gandhi King’s approach of nonviolent resistance was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, and he speaks of the policy as “…not meant to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding.”

By the 1960s, King’s non violent resistance was challenged by younger African Americans who believed his methods outmoded. Why did these militant individuals reject king? Does philosophy still have merit in the early twenty first century?

The line between violent and non-violent protests had always been very thin and in the early 1960's young blacks threatened to cross it. There developed feelings of tension since the civil rights movement had grown considerably in numbers and they were demanding for immediate abolishment of segregation. The leaders of the militant factions rejected King since, they felt that he was more of a peacemaker than a fighter for civil rights. Furthermore, they felt that his method of non-violence was too slow in achieving any tangible results. Martin Luther King's philosophy is, however, still very applicable in the twenty first century where people are assumed to be more civilised and understanding. King proved that riots and violence were not the only ways of solving disputes or getting the attention of the authorities. 

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