Mark Twain was born on this day in 1835. He lived until his 70s, which he considered “the time of life when you arrive at a new and awful dignity.” The writer regarded old age with the same acerbic wit that made him the greatest humorist of his time. Tragedy always seemed to be knocking at Twain’s door. He lived through the death of three children and his wife, and financial troubles weighed heavy on him — but for Twain, “humor [was] the great thing, the saving thing after all.” We’ve gathered 25 of Twain’s crankiest quotes that celebrate the father of American literature’s sharp tongue.
“Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”
“In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made school boards.” — Following the Equator
“The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.” — Mark Twain in Eruption
“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.” — Mark Twain in Eruption
“It is just like man’s vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions.” — What is Man?