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    Sale 1930 | Lot 281
    Price Realized: $59,700With Buyer's Premium
    Show Hammer Price
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    • Sale 1930 Lot 281

      "WE HAVE GROUND THE MANHOOD OUT OF THEM & THE SHAME IS OURS, NOT THEIRS"TWAIN, MARK. Autograph Letter Signed, "S. L. Clemens," to an unnamed recipient [but Francis Wayland, Dean of Yale Law School] stating his opinion that Black students ought to be better supported, offering to support such a student, denouncing racism and advocating reparations for years of subjegation. 1 1/2 pages, two 8vo sheets. Hartford, 24 December 1885
      Estimate $30,000-40,000

      "Do you know him? And is he worthy? I do not believe I would very cheerfully help a white student who would ask a benevolence of a stranger, but I do not feel so about the other color. We have ground the manhood out of them, & the shame is ours, not theirs, & we should pay for it. If this young man lives as economically as it is the duty & should be the pride of one to do who is straitened [sic], I would like to know what the cost is, so that I may send 6, 12, or 24 months' board, as the size of the bill may determine. You see he refers to you or I would not venture to intrude."<>
      A remarkable Twain letter, written the same year as the publication of Huck Finn, seemingly ending any debate on whether Huck Finn is a racist novel. The black student who Twain supported throughout law school has been identified as Warner T. McGuinn, who later became a prominent lawyer and associate of Thurgood Marshall. This letter was discovered and published on the front page of the New York Times on 14 March 1985, and has since been used in a Ken Burns documentary on Twain. Twain scholar Professor Shelley Fisher Fishkin was quoted in the Times article as saying about this letter that "Twain's brutally succinct comment on racism . . . is a rare non-ironic statement of the personal anguish Twain felt regarding the destructive legacy of slavery." It is arguably the most direct statement on race in Twain's hand ever offered at auction.<>

      Price Realized (with Buyer's Premium) $59,700