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Whiskey & Wry — conformity

24. The Time Mencken Hoaxed Himself, Part II

Note: For Part I of this article, click here.  “Melancholy Reflections” appeared in the Chicago Tribune on May 23, 1926. It was not just a confession but also Mencken's cry for the public to use critical reasoning. The joke had soured. H.L. Mencken was receiving letters of corroboration from some readers and requests for more details from others. And, because Fillmore’s presidency was uneventful, some calendars now marked his birthday with the only interesting tidbit they had: Fillmore introduced the bathtub into the White House. In “Melancholy Reflections,” Mencken speculated on the probable response to his confession. Cincinnati, where the faux...

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21. Corn-Pone Opinions

In Corn-Pone Opinions, a posthumously published, autobiographical essay, the great Mark Twain addressed the timeless question of how people come to form their beliefs. As a child, Twain served as an audience of one for the private performances of a young, neighboring slave whom Twain regarded, at the time, as "the greatest orator in the United States." One of the skilled rhetorician's comments had a profound and lasting impact on the "Father of American Literature"; to wit: "You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I'll tell you what is 'pinions is." Here, Twain's wise idol hits...

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