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Mark Twain: April Fool, 1884

Edited by Leslie Myrick and Christopher Ohge

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Henry L. Pierce to Samuel L. Clemens
31 March 1884 • Ponkapog, Mass.
(MS: CU-MARK, UCLC 41968)

redman farm,

ponkapog, mass.

March 31, 1884

My Dear Mr Clemens,

I have long desired your autograph. If it is not trespassing too much upon your valuable time will you kindly send it to your

Ardent admirer

Henry L. Pierce


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Mr Samuel L Clemens | Hartford | Conn [postmarked:] mattapan station mar 31 6 pm mass [docketed by SLC, in pencil:] Purse[1] | Mention [rule]

Explanatory Notes

1. Phonetic pronunciation of "Pierce," who, like Charles Sanders Peirce, evidently pronounced his name in the British fashion. [back]

Textual Commentary

Copy-text:MS, Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley (CU-MARK).

Persons Mentioned

Henry L. Pierce  (1825–1896)

Henry Lillie Pierce was a politician and millionaire chocolate magnate, and an intimate friend of Thomas Bailey Aldrich. In 1849 he secured a position as a clerk in the Baker chocolate factory in Dorchester, owned by his step-uncle. By 1854, on the death of the heir, Walter Baker, the trustees gave Pierce a ten-year lease on the factory. He had organized the company so successfully that not only was he able to serve as member of the US House of Representatives from 1873 to 1877 and as mayor of Boston in 1872 and 1878, but by the end of his second ten-year lease the property was conveyed to him by the trustees. Pierce and Thomas Bailey Aldrich were the closest of friends from around 1873 until Pierce's death. He left the family a life interest in Redman Farm, his house and land at Ponkapog, and a total bequest of $400,000. (James Bugbee, “Memoir of Henry Lillie Pierce,” Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 2nd ser., vol. 11 [Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1896–97], 386–410; “A Model Citizen,” The Critic 30 [January 9, 1897], 22).