Mark Twain: April Fool, 1884
Edited by Leslie Myrick and Christopher Ohge
Charles C. Duncan to Samuel L. Clemens
31 March 1884 • New York, N.Y.
(MS: CU-MARK, UCLC 41864)
Full size in new window
New York March 31stSaml. L. Clemens, Esq:
The verdict of the jury in the recent suit which I brought against Mr. Jones proves that I was in no way damaged by the hasty
remarks View Page
Full size in new window you are alleged to have made to a N.Y. Times reporter and as proof of my willingness to abide by their decision and desire to return to our former friendly relations I beg leave to ask for three of your View Page
Full size in new window signatures one for myself and one for each of my two sons.
I am with great respect
C. C. Duncan. Late Capt: "Quaker City"
P.S. I enclose one 2 cent stamp—
▮ Copy-text: The Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (CU-MARK).
Charles C. Duncan (1821–1898)
Charles Duncan was the captain of the Quaker City when Clemens traveled to Europe and the Levant in 1867. Duncan had gone to sea as a boy and was a ship captain before he was thirty. In 1853 he became a shipping and commission merchant in New York City, operating as Charles C. Duncan and Company. Shortly before the Civil War, he resettled in England and resumed business there while leaving the New York office in the hands of a subordinate, who absconded with the firm’s funds, precipitating its bankruptcy after Duncan’s return in 1865. The Quaker City excursion was in part a means of recovering from the bankruptcy. Duncan also lectured on the excursion, in New York on 3 and 26 December 1867, in Washington on January 1868, in Cleveland on 10 March 1868, and again in New York on 11 January 1877, when he attacked Clemens by declaring that Innocents Abroad was “in no sense” an accurate account of the trip (“About Mark Twain,” New York World, 12 January 1877, 5). Clemens showed his contempt for Duncan in his unpublished partial draft of a Quaker City play, depicting him as the mercenary “Capt. Dusenberry” (see Appendix E of L2; also the enclosure, n. 1, of Clemens's 25 November 1867 letter to Charles Henry Webb). Over the years he and Duncan were intermittently contentious, specifically in 1883, when Clemens spoke out in support of Elihu Root's corruption investigation into Duncan's finances as shipping commissioner (8 January 1868 to Beach, 10 March 1868 to Fairbanks, L2, pp. 149 n. 6, 203 n. 1; N&J2, p. 35; N&J3, pp. 18, 24–25). Duncan was dismissed in 1884 as shipping commissioner of the port of New York City.