4. MARK TWAIN
Represents: Unbridled individualism in America, Recreational use of cannabis in America
Does any one person exemplify the USA more than Mark Twain? The man who was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in 1835 is certainly in the discussion; having lived all over the U.S. and penning the quintessential “Great American Novel” with 1885’s Huckleberry Finn.
In a sense, Clemens, who began calling himself “Mark Twain” in 1863, predated 1967’s Summer of Love “hippie” (now “hipster”) qualities, from his questioning attitude to his facial hair. And that behavior included getting stoned in San Francisco, presently hipster central in California.
In 2011, SF Gate recalled Twain’s “hasheesh” experience in the City by the Bay, as reported on September 18, 1865, by the then San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle—today known as the San Francisco Chronicle.
The account reads: “It appears that a ‘Hasheesh’ mania has broken out among our Bohemians. Yesterday, Mark Twain and the ‘Mouse-Trap’ man (a reference to a local literary columnist) were seen walking up Clay Street under the influence of the drug, followed by a ‘star’ (a police officer) who was evidently laboring under a misapprehension as to what was the matter with them.”
During that period in U.S. history when drugs—including all forms of medicinal and recreational weed—were mundanely legal, cannabis concentrates like “hasheesh candy” were sold at local drug stores, such as Richards & Co, on the corner of the aforementioned Clay St. and Sansome St. in downtown San Francisco.
America was changing in the time of Twain, from hard manual labor to the takeover of technology. But cannabis hemp still had a role to play…