By Lester Stone,2014-06-24 16:58
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Running for Governor[N]

    [1] A few months ago I was nominated for Governor of the great State of New York, to run against Stewart L. Woodford and John T. Hoffman, on an independent ticket[N]. I had one important advantage over these gentlemen, and that was, good character[N]. But at the very moment that I was celebrating my advantage, there was a muddy undercurrent of discomfort "bothering" the depths of my happiness and that was, the having to hear my name connected

    with those of such people.[N]

    [2] As I was looking listlessly over the papers at breakfast, I came across this paragraph, and I never was so surprised before:

    PERJURY. Perhaps, now that Mr. Mark Twain is before the people as a candidate for

    Governor, he should explain how he was convicted of perjury by thirty-four witnesses, in

    Wakawak[N], Cochin China, in 1863, the intent of which perjury was to rob a poor native

    widow of a little plantain patch, their only support. Mr.Twain should clear this matter up.

    Will he do it?

    [3] I thought I should burst with amazement! Such a cruel, heartless charge I never had been to Cochin China! I didn't know a plantain patch from a kangaroo![N] I did not know what to do. I let the day slip away without doing anything at all. The next morning the same paper had this nothing more:

    SIGNIFICANT. Mr. Twain is suspiciously silent about the Cochin China perjury. [Mem[N] During the campaign this paper referred to me as "the infamous perjurer Twain."] [4] Next came the "Gazette", with this:

    WANTED TO KNOW. Will the new candidate for Governor explain to his fellow-citizens the

    circumstance of his cabin-mates in Montana losing small valuables from time to time. These

    things were found in Mr. Twain's possession. They advised him to leave the camp. Will he

    explain this?

    [5] I never was in Montana in my life.

     [After this, this journal customarily spoke of me as "Twain, the Montana Thief."] [6] I got to picking up papers apprehensively much as one would lift a desired blanket which he had some idea might have a rattlesnake under it.[N] One day this met my eye:

    THE LIE NAILED! By the sworn affidavits of Michael O'Flanagan, Esq.[N], of the Five Points[N],

    and Mr. Kit Burns and Mr. John Allen, of Water Street[N], it is established that Mr. Mark

    Twain's vile statement that the grandfather of our noble candidate, John T. Hoffman, was

    hanged for highway robbery, is a brutal LIE. It is disheartening to see such shameful means

    used to achieve political success. The anguish this miserable falsehood must cause the

    innocent relatives and friends of the deceased should incite an outraged and insulted public

    to take vengeance upon the liar. But no let us leave him to the agony of a guilty


    [7] I can lay my hand upon the Bible[N] and say that I never slandered Governor Hoffman's grandfather.

    [The journal quoted always referred to me afterward as "Twain, the Body-Snatcher."] [8] The next newspaper article that attracted my attention was the following:

    A SWEET CANDIDATE[N]. Mark Twain, who was to make such a damaging speech at the

    mass meeting of the Independents last night, didn't come! A telegram stated that he had

    been knocked down by horses and his leg broken in two places he was lying in great agony,

    and so forth. The Independents tried hard to pretend that they did not know what was the

    real reason for the absence of their candidate. A very drunk man was seen to stagger into

    Mr. Twain's hotel last night. The Independents should prove that this drunken man was not

    Mark Twain. The voice of the people demands loudly: "WHO WAS THAT MAN?"

    [9] It was incredible that it was really my name that was joined with this disgraceful suspicion. I hadn't tasted ale, beer, wine, or liquor for three years. [I saw myself dubbed "Mr. Delirium Tremens[N] Twain" in the next issue of that journal.]

    [10] Shortly after the principal Republican[N] journal "convicted" me of bribery, and the leading Democratic14 paper blamed a case of blackmailing on me.

    [11] By this time there was such a clamor for an "answer" to all the dreadful charges that were laid to me, that the leaders of my party said it would be political ruin for me to remain silent any longer. The following appeared in one of the papers the very next day:

    BEHOLD THE MAN! The Independent candidate maintains Silence. Every accusation against

    him has been proved, and also proven by his own silence. Look upon[N] your candidate,

    Independents! The Infamous Perjurer! The Montana Thief! The Body-snatcher! Think about

    your Filthy Corruptionist! Think about him and then say if you can give your honest votes to

    a creature who has earned this array of titles by his hideous crimes, and dare not deny


     [12] There was no possible way of getting out of it. I set about preparing to "answer" a mass of baseless charges and mean and wicked falsehoods. The very next morning a paper charged me with burning a lunatic asylum[N] with all its inmates because it obstructed the view from my house. Then came the charge of poisoning my uncle to get his property. And at last, as a due and fitting climax to the shameless persecution, nine little ragged children of all shades[N] of color were urged to run to me and clasp me around the legs and call me Pa[N]!

    [13] I gave up. I was not fit for the requirements of a Gubernatorial campaign in the State of New York, and so I bitterly sent in my withdrawal from the candidacy, and signed it. "Truly yours,

    "Once a decent man, but now

    "MARK TWAIN, I. P., M. T., B. S., D. T., F. C., and Pa[N]"

     (959 words)

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