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Mark Twain in China$
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Selina Lai-Henderson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780804789646

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804789646.001.0001

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From the Mississippi to the Big Sea

From the Mississippi to the Big Sea

Voyages Across the Pacific

(p.33) Chapter 2 From the Mississippi to the Big Sea
Mark Twain in China

Selina Lai-Henderson

Stanford University Press

This chapter examines the impact of two Pacific voyages that Twain undertook on his attitude toward the Chinese. Sent by the Sacramento Union as a correspondent to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) in 1866, Twain supported US annexation of the Islands and the importation of Chinese “coolie” labor to the plantations there. On this trip Twain became friends with Anson Burlingame, the then US Minister to China (1861-1867), who helped to deepen Twain’s understanding of and acquaintance with the Chinese. As Twain revisited the Sandwich Islands thirty years later in 1895 as part of his lecture series along the equator, he had become increasingly skeptical of European, and soon after, American colonization by means of economic dominance and missionary involvements in foreign territories. The cultural and ethnic diversity that Twain encountered beyond the American shore complicated the racial assumptions that he grew up with in the slave-holding South.

Keywords:   Sandwich Islands, Hawaii, Anson Burlingame, US Minister to China, Sacramento Union, annexation, imperialism, colonization, race, coolie

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