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Add to My Citations To Orion Clemens
3? July 1869 • Elmira, N.Y.
(Paraphrase: OC to MEC, 7 July 69, CU-MARK, UCCL 11698)
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I have been writing at some length to Sam, in answer to one received yesterday, in which he said Mr. Langt don offered $20,000 cash and $10,000 canal stock for our land.1 . . . Sam wrote that he wanted a quiet place to write his next winter’s lecture2

Explanatory Notes

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1 Orion responded to his brother on 7 July:

I am much pleased with Mr. Langdon’s offer; but as you suggest, he must not buy blindfold, or until he sends his Memphis agent there to examine. Neither you nor Ma nor Pamela know anything about the land. ... I have laboriously investigated the titles, localities and qualities, and I would put its present value at about five thousand dollars, though Ma and Pamela would not be willing to take that. . . . The difficulties are that Tennessee grants the same land over and over again to different parties if they apply for it, leaving them to fight out among themselves questions of priority of entry and compliances with the provisions of the laws, and will then give it with a better title than all of them to some stranger with seven years possession under a deed from some person having himself absolutely no shadow or pretense of title.

Orion proposed trying to perfect the family’s title by leasing the land in “160 acre tracts and settling immigrants on them with seven or eight years’ leases. . . . How would it do to propose to Mr. Langdon an equal copartnership—we to furnish the land and he the means to colonize?—Provided we make no other disposition of the land before next April, as, until that time, it is locked up in the hands of Merriman & Co.” And he closed by reiterating the terms of his agreement with the St. Louis land agents, which Jervis Langdon had found questionable: “If Merriman & Co. sell for a dollar an acre, we give them 5 pr ct. If they sell for over a dollar we give them half of all over, provided their commission shall not be less than 5 pr ct.” (CU-MARK). Langdon’s response to Orions’s “equal copartnership” proposal is not known. In November 1869, Clemens declined to involve him in any sort of purchase, although he agreed to approach him about mining the coal on the land (see 9 Nov 69 to PAM).

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2 In his 7 July letter, Orion promised his brother: “We can fix you a nice, quiet place to write your lecture. A friend, Mr. Woodward, having gone with his family to spend the summer in the North, Mollie and I have taken the house till they come back, about the first of September. It is a three story brick.” On the same day, he wrote Mollie that in offering the room, “I did not say where, meaning to leave that to you. The 2 Second story rooms are Miss Brackett’s” (CU-MARK). The house of Calvin M. Woodward, a professor of geometry and drawing at Washington University, was at 1501 Chesnut Street, where Orion and Mollie stayed until early September, when they moved to Pamela Moffett’s house at 1511 Pine. “Miss Brackett” was probably Anna C. Brackett, a public school teacher (Richard Edwards 1868, 187; Richard Edwards 1869, 87, 829; Richard Edwards 1870, 71, 940; William Stotts to OC and MEC, 5 Sept 69, CU-MARK).

glyphglyphCopy-text:glyphParaphrase in MS, Orion Clemens to Mary E. (Mollie) Clemens, 7 July 1869, Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (CU-MARK).

glyphglyphPrevious publication:glyph L3, 279–280.

glyphglyphProvenance:glyphsee Moffett Collection, pp. 586–87. Samuel Clemens’s original letter may have been destroyed in 1904.