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Mark Twain's first beef


In the September 16, 1852 issue of the Hannibal Journal, a young Mark Twain clowns a rival editor.

At sixteen, the boy who would become Mark Twain worked as a typesetter for his brother’s newspaper, the Hannibal Journal. In the summer of 1852, his brother took a business trip and left Twain in charge. The boy—small, impish, high-strung—took advantage of his brother’s absence to print a caustic attack on a rival editor, Josiah P. Hinton. Hinton had recently lashed out at the Journal for an editorial about dogs barking at night. Twain retaliated by making a crude woodcut with his penknife that pictured Hinton with a dog’s head, headed towards Bear Creek with a bottle of booze. Hilton had recently tried to drown himself after being rejected by a woman—the whole town knew the story, and Twain spun it into his satire. Hinton made some indignant noises in reply but basically crumpled. The boy with the short temper and savage wit had won his first literary feud.