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Mark Twain
Life on the Mississippi



THE 'BODY OF THE NATION'

But the basin of the Mississippi is the body of the Nation. All the other parts are but members, important in themselves, yet more important in their relations to this. Exclusive of the Lake basin and of 300,000 square miles in Texas and New Mexico, which in many aspects form a part of it, this basin contains about 1,250,000 square miles. In extent it is the second great valley of the world, being exceeded only by that of the Amazon. The valley of the frozen Obi approaches it in extent; that of La Plata comes next in space, and probably in habitable capacity, having about eight-ninths of its area; then comes that of the Yenisei, with about seven-ninths; the Lena, Amoor, Hoang-ho, Yang-tse-kiang, and Nile, five-ninths; the Ganges, less than one-half; the Indus, less than one-third; the Euphrates, one-fifth; the Rhine, one-fifteenth. It exceeds in extent the whole of Europe, exclusive of Russia, Norway, and Sweden. It would contain Austria four times, Germany or Spain five times, France six times, the British Islands or Italy ten times. Conceptions formed from the river-basins of Western Europe are rudely shocked when we consider the extent of the valley of the Mississippi; nor are those formed from the sterile basins of the great rivers of Siberia, the lofty plateaus of Central Asia, or the mighty sweep of the swampy Amazon more adequate. Latitude, elevation, and rainfall all combine to render every part of the Mississippi Valley capable of supporting a dense population. As a dwelling-place for civilized man it is by far the first upon our globe.

EDITOR'S TABLE, HARPER'S MAGAZINE, FEBRUARY 1863

Chapter 1. The River and Its History
Chapter 2 . The River and Its Explorers
Chapter 3 Frescoes from the Past
Chapter 4 The Boys' Ambition
Chapter 5 I Want to be a Cub-pilot
Chapter 6 A Cub-pilot's Experience
Chapter 7 A Daring Deed
Chapter 8 Perplexing Lessons
Chapter 9 Continued Perplexities
Chapter 10 Completing My Education
Chapter 11 The River Rises
Chapter 12 Sounding
Chapter 13 A Pilot's Needs
Chapter 14 Rank and Dignity of Piloting
Chapter 15 The Pilots' Monopoly
Chapter 16 Racing Days
Chapter 17 Cut-offs and Stephen
Chapter 18 I Take a Few Extra Lessons
Chapter 19 Brown and I Exchange Compliments
Chapter 20 A Catastrophe
Chapter 21 A Section in My Biography
Chapter 22 I Return to My Muttons
Chapter 23 Traveling Incognito
Chapter 24 My Incognito is Exploded
Chapter 25 From Cairo to Hickman
Chapter 26 Under Fire
Chapter 27 Some Imported Articles
Chapter 28 Uncle Mumford Unloads
Chapter 29 A Few Specimen Bricks
Chapter 30 Sketches by the Way
Chapter 31 A Thumb-print and What Came of It
Chapter 32 The Disposal of a Bonanza
Chapter 33 Refreshments and Ethics
Chapter 34 Tough Yarns
Chapter 35 Vicksburg During the Trouble
Chapter 36 The Professor's Yarn
Chapter 37 The End of the 'Gold Dust'
Chapter 38 The House Beautiful
Chapter 39 Manufactures and Miscreants
Chapter 40 Castles and Culture
Chapter 41 The Metropolis of the South
Chapter 42 Hygiene and Sentiment
Chapter 43 The Art of Inhumation
Chapter 44 City Sights
Chapter 45 Southern Sports
Chapter 46 Enchantments and Enchanters
Chapter 47 Uncle Remus and Mr. Cable
Chapter 48 Sugar and Postage
Chapter 49 Episodes in Pilot Life
Chapter 50 The 'Original Jacobs'
Chapter 51 Reminiscences
Chapter 52 A Burning Brand
Chapter 53 My Boyhood's Home
Chapter 54 Past and Present
Chapter 55 A Vendetta and Other Things
Chapter 56 A Question of Law
Chapter 57 An Archangel
Chapter 58 On the Upper River
Chapter 59 Legends and Scenery
Chapter 60 Speculations and Conclusions
Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C
Appendix D
Personae

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