American frontiersman Leatherstocking, aka Natty Bumppo, had his second outing in James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans, which debuted on February 4, 1826. Among the earliest distinctive American novels, the book is the second of five in the series called the “Leather-stocking Tales.” As a character, Natty represents goodness, purity, and simplicity. He became quite popular, and the books featuring him were in heavy demand. The Last of the Mohicans is still widely read today.
Among those who were not smitten by the Leatherstocking Tales was Mark Twain. In fact, Twain went so far as to write a lengthy piece on the shortcomings of the novels called “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offences” in which he accused Cooper of committing 114 of 115 possible offenses against literary art in the span of less than a page.
After outlining 18 of the offenses specific to romantic fiction, Twain went on to say:
“Cooper’s gift in the way of invention was not a rich endowment; but such as it was he liked to work it, he was pleased with the effects, and indeed he did some quite sweet things with it. In his little box of stage-properties he kept six or eight cunning devices, tricks, artifices for his savages and woodsmen to deceive and circumvent each other with, and he was never so happy as when he was working these innocent things and seeing them go. A favorite one was to make a moccasined person tread in the tracks of a moccasined enemy, and thus hide his own trail. Cooper wore out barrels and barrels of moccasins in working that trick. Another stage-property that he pulled out of his box pretty frequently was the broken twig. He prized his broken twig above all the rest of his effects, and worked it the hardest. It is a restful chapter in any book of his when somebody doesn’t step on a dry twig and alarm all the reds and whites for two hundred yards around. Every time a Cooper person is in peril, and absolute silence is worth four dollars a minute, he is sure to step on a dry twig. There may be a hundred other handier things to step on, but that wouldn’t satisfy Cooper. Cooper requires him to turn out and find a dry twig; and if he can’t do it, go and borrow one. In fact, the Leatherstocking Series ought to have been called the Broken Twig Series.”
In 1789, George Washington was elected president receiving 100% of the electoral vote, the only president to ever do so (although it won’t be long before our current president claims to have done so).
On this day in 2004, Mark Zuckerberg and fellow Harvard students launched Facebook. It was limited to Harvard students only. Alas, it did not remain that way.
I’ve been on a constant diet for the last two decades. I’ve lost a total of 789 pounds. By all accounts, I should be hanging from a charm bracelet. – Erma Bombeck