April 9, 2010

On This Day in History

It was on this day in 1859, after two years of apprenticeship, that 23-year-old Samuel Clemens was granted his steamboat pilot license. He was a pilot for two years, until the Civil War stopped traffic on the Mississippi River. And a couple of years after that, working as a reporter in Nevada, he signed a travel account by the pen name "Mark Twain." It was a name he picked up from life on the river, where "mark twain" was used to signify the depth at which it was safe to pilot a steamboat. He wrote later, "If I have seemed to love my subject, it is no surprising thing, for I loved the profession far better than any I have followed since, and I took a measureless pride in it."
From The Writer's Almanac