Review: Life On The Mississippi By Mark Twain

783 Words 4 Pages
 Many books, songs, and stories have idealized the Mississippi River steamboats of the 1800’s and early 1900’s. One classic portrayal of life on the steamboats can be found in Mark Twain's book Life on the Mississippi, published in 1883. In this work, Twain describes the professional gamblers, the jolly captains, the sly confidence men, and the traveling workers that contributed to the lasting image of life on steamboats. This image has carried on into the modern world, despite the fact that steamboats are rarely used for travel anymore.

 Although the word usually describes the shallow, paddle wheel–driven boat commonly found on the Mississippi River during the 19th and early 20th centuries, a steamboat is technically any watercraft fueled by steam. At that time, there were actually two types of steamboats: an East Coast type and a Western Rivers type. The East Coast type was used on the Eastern bays and rivers between Maine and Virginia. It was a deep-draft vessel powered by steam engines that drove paddle wheels or
…show more content…
Only the upper deck for first-class passengers was considered luxurious. The rest of the boat was the realm of discomfort and hard work.  All freight was handled by roustabouts, freed slaves hired to do the work, under the most brutal conditions imaginable.  Before the American Civil War, loading and unloading was done by poor immigrants, some of whom worked to pay their fare; slaves were too valuable for such dangerous work.  Spontaneous races between the captains of two steamboats were also not uncommon, often leading to disasters, in which many lives were lost.  The emergence of the railroad as the major mode of transportation in the mid-1800’s was the beginning of the end for the packets, which could not compete with this faster mode of

Related Documents