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William Dean Howells: On Mark Twain and war

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

William Dean Howells: Selections on war

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William Dean Howells
Member of the Anti-Imperialist League
From letter to Aurelia Howells
February 24, 1901

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I see a great deal of Mark Twain nowadays, and we have high good times denouncing everything. We agree perfectly about the Boer war and the Filipino war, and war generally…Clemens is, as I have always known him, a most right-minded man, and of course he has an intellect that I enjoy. He is getting some hard knocks now from the blackguards and hypocrites for his righteous fun with McKinley’s attempt to colonize the Philippines, but he is making a host of friends, too.

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From a letter to Charles Eliot Norton
August 15, 1903

I have heard that this year’s dinner is to be the last of these occasions at Ashfield which have made so much for righteousness during the last twenty years, and I wish to express my part of a general sense of their usefulness. You have know how to speak the truth and have spoken in in the ears of a generation not so deaf as it would like to be, and have helped keep the popular conscience alive in times when it seemed past hope. The word of Ashfield has gone far, but better still it has gone deep, and has uttered the heart, otherwise silent, of those who believed the Spanish war wrong, and the Philippine oppression doubly wrong; and I hope that it will not fail now to confess the national shame for the hideous popular massacres with which we have crowned the cruelty and folly of our dealings with a people we enslaved…

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