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By Peter Krass

The enterprise adventures of mark twain, power speculator and entrepreneur.

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Extra info for Ignorance, Confidence, and Filthy Rich Friends

Sample text

Clemens hit the deck and stayed low. “Good Lord Almighty! ” “I guess they want us to wait a minute,” the future humorist replied dryly. • 26 • I G N O R A N C E , C O N F I D E N C E , A N D F I LT H Y R I C H F R I E N D S Attempting to Avoid the Silver-Mining Craze, Clemens Seeks Profit in an Industry Supporting the Miners In the summer of 1861, Clemens joined the Confederate army for a brief stint—a very brief stint: “In June I joined the Confederates in Ralls County, Missouri, as a second lieutenant under General Tom Harris and came near having the distinction of being captured by Colonel Ulysses S.

24 Through thick and thin, he continued to glean useful insights into human character. When H OW T O Q U I T A G O O D J O B A N D T H E N L O S E A M I L L I O N • 31 • they finally arrived in Unionville, the Humboldt County seat, he “expected to find masses of silver lying all about the ground,” so, as soon as the chance came, he slipped away from his partners, hiked to a relatively remote area, and started collecting rocks shining with silver. That night, when he shared them with his partners, the more experienced of the lot scoffed: the rocks were filled with nothing more than glittering mica.

He’d then find some poor sucker to buy his claim for far more than it was worth—because it was actually worthless. Hardly a dedicated writer yet, in a February 1863 letter to his mother and sister, Clemens still imagined himself making a killing in silver, a passion he expressed with a humorous twist: Well, I have no news to report, unless it will interest you to know that they ‘struck it rich’ in the ‘Burnside’ ledge last night. The stock was worth ten dollars a foot this morning. It sells at a hundred tonight.

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