Joseph Hopkins Twichell
Born November 30, 1838(1838-11-30)
Southington, Connecticut, United States
Died Template:Death date
Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Nationality American
Occupation Pastor
Title Reverend

Reverend Joseph Hopkins Twichell (November 30, 1838 - December 20, 1918), writer and pastor, was Mark Twain's closest friend for over forty years, and appears in A Tramp Abroad as "Harris". They met at a church social after the Civil War when Hopkins was pastor of Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford, his only pastorate for almost 50 years. Reverend Twichell performed Twain's wedding and christened his children, and counseled him on literary as well as personal matters for the rest of Twain's life. A profound scholar and devout Christian, he was described as "a man with an exuberant sense of humor, and a profound understanding of the frailties of mankind."[1]

Biography[edit | edit source]

Early life[edit | edit source]

Twichell was born in Southington, Connecticut, to Edward Twichell and Selina Delight Carter.

He studied at Yale from 1855-1859. He was an athletic young man with deep-sunk eyes and a powerful jaw. He had rowed port waist on the Yale crew the first time the Blue boatmen beat Harvard.

From 1859-61, Twichell attended Union Theological Seminary, New York.

Civil War[edit | edit source]

In 1861, Twichell was living on Waverly Place in New York City, attending Union Theological Seminary, but not yet ordained, when war broke out. Strongly pro-abolition, he enlisted in the Union Army (in the wrong state and with inadequate credentials) a few weeks after the Confederacy fired upon Fort Sumter in April.[2]

Twichell became chaplain of the 71st New York State Volunteers, one of five regiments of the Excelsior Brigade commanded by General Daniel E. Sickles. The regiment was largely made up of working-class Irish Catholics from lower Manhattan, Democrats not much in sympathy with the war’s aims—an unusual flock for a Congregationalist from Connecticut. He wrote his father: “If you ask why I fixed upon this regiment, composed as it is of rough, wicked men, I answer, that was the very reason. I should not expect a revival, but I should expect to make some good impressions by treating with kindness a class of men who are little used to it.”[2]

In July 1861 the Excelsior Brigade was ordered to Washington, D.C., a capital in shock after the unexpected Union disaster at Bull Run. That fall, the brigade marched east through Maryland, with Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s division of the army’s Third Corps, to help defend the mouth of the Potomac River from Confederate harassment.

Clemens's friendship with Joseph Twichell deepened. Twichell's inspiration fired his imagination to write about his piloting career on the Mississippi. He and Twichell undertook a walking trip of over 100 miles to Boston. It was aborted on the second day when they decided to take the train. They followed the news reports of the Henry Ward Beecher adultery scandal. Clemens wrote Twichell, "Mr. Tilton never has been entitled to any sympathy since the day he heard the news & did not go straight & kill Beecher & then humbly seek forgiveness for displaying so much vivacity" (p. 202). He and Twichell attended the Henry Ward Beecher trial together.[3]

Personal life[edit | edit source]

Twichell married Julia Harmony Cushman in November 1865. Together, they had eleven children.

Their son Burton Parker Twichell married Katherine Eugenia Pratt, daughter of Charles Millard Pratt.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Paine, Albert Bigelow. "Mark Twain: A Biography". University of Adelaide Library Electronic Texts Collection. Retrieved 2007-07-28. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Courtney, Steve. "Joe Twichell and The Slave Hunters". Asylum Hill Congregational Church. Retrieved 2007-07-28. 
  3. Frank, Michael B.; Harriet Elinor Smith (2002). Mark Twain's Letters, Volume 6: 1874-75. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-23772-2. 

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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