This publication was written in 1904-1909 and would not be published until 1962. These works were written during the last days and years of Mark Twain Life. Unbeknownst to the world, one of North America’s most prolific writers and story tellers of the Mississippi River Basin was deep in debt and two of his twin daughters and wife had recently died. His work covered the obscenity of Jim Crow Laws at the time, Misconceptions of Hookworm, and Hypocrisy of the Church to name a few. This written word often uses politically incorrect terms to describe racial groups to exaggerate his exasperation of what he was observing in the world. His satirical criticism of Christianity through using Satan as the worldly observer of mankind was so controversial at the time this publication would not be published for close to 60 years. Another event that most likely shaped Mark Twain’s view of the world was the Civil War.
When people think about the Civil War they think of Slavery, State Rights, Abolition, the Union, and etc. But, the Civil War may have been one of the reasons that Mark Twain had such a dark outlook and cynical view of the church that he could only use ire and satirical comedy to describe. What most people have forgotten is that both sides of the Civil War believed that God was on their side.
"There is not much questioning the cultural power of religion in America in the Civil War years. Americans at the midpoint of the 19th century were probably as thoroughly Christianized a people as they have ever been. Landscapes were dominated by church spires, and the most common sound in public spaces was the ringing of church bells. American churches jumped to exponential levels of growth. Between 1780 and 1820, Americans built 10,000 new churches; by 1860, they quadrupled that number. Almost all of the 78 American colleges which were founded by 1840 were church-related, with clergymen serving on the boards and the faculties. Even a man of such modest religious visibility as Abraham Lincoln, who never belonged to a church and never professed more than a deistic concept of God, nevertheless felt compelled, during his run for Congress in 1846, to still the anxieties of a Christian electorate by protesting that “I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures; and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or of any denomination of Christians in particular … I do not think I could myself, be brought to support a man for office, whom I knew to be an open enemy of, and scoffer at, religion.”
Stout concentrates on describing how Northerners, in particular, were bloated with this certainty. By “presenting the Union in absolutist moral terms,” Northerners gave themselves permission to wage a war of holy devastation. “Southerners must be made to feel that this was a real war,” explained Colonel James Montgomery, a one-time ally of John Brown, “and that they were to be swept away by the hand of God, like the Jews of old.” Or at least offered no alternative but unconditional surrender. “The Southern States,” declared Henry Ward Beecher shortly after Abraham Lincoln’s election to the presidency, “have organized society around a rotten core,—slavery,” while the “north has organized society about a vital heart, —liberty.” Across that divide, “God is calling to the nations.” And he is telling the American nation in particular that, “compromise is a most pernicious sham.”
But Southern preachers and theologians chimed in with fully as much fervor, in claiming that God was on their side. A writer for the Southern quarterly, DeBow’s Review, insisted that since “the institution of slavery accords with the injunctions and morality of the Bible,” the Confederate nation could therefore expect a divine blessing “in this great struggle.” The aged Episcopal bishop of Virginia, Richard Meade, gave Robert E. Lee his dying blessing: “You are engaged in a holy cause.”
The Civil War was no trivial matter, it was the bloodiest conflict in US’s history and would claim more lives from the US then all the other wars combine for the US. It is estimated that 700,000 American lives were lost in this war; in a nation that had only 30 million inhabitants. If you scaled the loss of life to the US population during World War II or the US population currently during the COVID-19. The loss of lives would be 3.1 million lives or 7.4 million lives. Mark Twain being a young man no doubt probably lost 10% of all his male fighting age friends from this war.
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