Huckleberry Finn Context

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  • Huckleberry Finn Context
    • Author
      • Samuel Langhorne Clemens
        • born 30 November 1835
          • This was the night of Halley's comet (appears approx. every 75 years)
        • died 21 April 1910 (when Halley's comet appeared again)
      • grew up along the Mississippi River
      • quit school at 12
      • At age 24 he returned to the Mississippi and became a river boat pilot. It is from this experience that he took the name Mark Twain, derived from the call for safe water.
      • Moved to Hannibal, Missouri at age 4.
        • During this time he lost a younger brother and sister as well as his father.?
        • He witnessed slavery, violence, economic disparity and river culture along the Mississippi.
      • He briefly served as a confederate soldier during the American Civil War before deserting.
    • Social
      • the white majority oppressed the black minority
      • Jim Crow Laws of 1876
        • institutionalised racial segregation
        • African Americans' opportunities for education and employment were severely limited
      • The Ku Klux Klan, first formed in the 1860s, became the arm of racist violence throughout the rest of the 19th century and into the 20th. ?
      • Novel was banned from a library in Massachusetts whom branded the subject of the novel ‘tawdry’ and its narrative ‘coarse’ and ‘ignorant.’
        • Similarly other libraries banned the book and so began the controversy that surrounded the novel until long after Twain’s death in 1910. ?
        • In the 1950s African American groups disapproved of the book's portrayal of black characters despite Twain’s intention of the novel which was to criticise racism and slaver
    • Historical
      • First slaves brought to America in 1619.
        • estimated that 6 to 7 million slaves were imported to the New World during the 18th century alone.?
        • After the American Revolution (1775-83), the new US Constitution counted each slave as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of taxation
        • The domestic slave trade continued to flourish and by 1860 the slave population had reached nearly 4 million, with more than half living in the cotton-producing states of the south.
        • Slaves constituted about one-third of the southern population.
      • American Civil War - 1861-1865
        • South vs North about slavery
        • South supported slavery as it had the slave plantations (tobacco, cotton etc)
        • North did not support and helped saves escape
          • Anti-slavery northerners began helping fugitive slaves escape to the north via a loose network of safe houses in the late 18th century
            • Underground Railroad
            • helped anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000 slaves reach freedom.
      • Emancipation Proclaimation
        • Freedom for slaves
        • On September 22, 1862 President Lincoln issued a preliminary emancipation proclamation stating that all slaves “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”
        • The Thirteenth Amendment was ratified by December 18, 1865 which ensured that forever after “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude … shall exist within the United States.”
    • set during the 1840s where slavery was not abolished
      • Written during the Reconstruction Era
        • Huck Finn was published in 1885 which is remembered as ‘ The Lost Cause Years’


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