Cory Booker and Carl Cannon tweet about a contested quote attributed to Mark Twain

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Fri May 10 04:53:59 UTC 2013

Cory Booker, the charismatic Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, and Carl
Cannon, a Pulitzer-winning journalist, exchanged tweets about a
quotation attributed to Mark Twain. Here are the first two tweets in
the sequence and a link to a more complete version of the exchange:

[Begin excerpt]
Cory Booker CoryBooker – tweet timestamp 8:16 AM - 9 May 2013
"Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people do
that but the really great make u feel that u 2 can become great" Twain
8:16 AM - 9 May 2013
[End excerpt]

[Begin excerpt]
Carl Cannon @CarlCannon 17h – tweet timestamp 8:26 AM - 9 May 2013
I wish @CoryBooker would quit tweeting these fake Mark Twain quotes.
It's not Watergate (or Benghazi), but it is annoying.
[End excerpt]
(This twitter link will probably break in the future.)

Another individual joined the discussion and tweeted a link to my
webpage about this quotation. (I scan for these links and that is how
I learned about this conversation.)

There is some evidence supporting the ascription of the statement
above to Twain. The earliest evidence I located was published in 1938
in the memoir of an extraordinary elocutionist who gave recitals at
Chautauquas around the United States. Chautauquas were assemblies that
combined entertainment and education by presenting lecturers,
preachers, musicians, and other performers to a largely rural
audience. Gay Zenola MacLaren wrote in her memoir that she met Mark
Twain when she was still a child who aspired to be a great performer.
Twain offered her the following counsel:

Cite: 1938, Morally We Roll Along by Gay MacLaren (Gay Zenola
MacLaren), Section: I Meet Mark Twain, Quote Page 66, Little, Brown
and Company, Boston, Massachusetts. (Verified with photocopies; thanks
to Professor Charles C. Doyle and the University of Georgia library

[Begin excerpt]
He opened the door for me himself. As we said good-bye, he put his
fingers lightly under my chin and lifted my head up so that my eyes
met his.

“Little girl,” he said earnestly, “keep away from people who try to
belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really
great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
[End excerpt]

Additional information is available at the QI website. As always I
welcome help from ADS list members to improve the entry on this topic:


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