Mark Twain in 1875 on Economy and Government 2009 [revised]

The Facts In The Case Of The Great Beef Contract, by Mark Twain [1875]


My copy of the story comes from a CD Rom of all the Works of America’s Master Storyteller of yesteryear.  The CD has a picture of a Tomahawk incident that I tried to copy into this Post because of the importance in the story but all my efforts were in vain and I have now removed the cartoon that I initially included for your amusement in the absence of the Tomahawk; I am Posting the cartoon separately is a Post on its own.  Do your best to get the original CD ROM picture of the Tomahawk. 


The thrust of this literary masterpiece is as relevant in present day Economics and Governance as it was at the time the incident took place.


A man inherits a valid contract to deliver a certain amount of beef for the army and sets about doing so.  But frustration follows on failed effort after failed effort on the part of Government, and that in turn is followed by desperation, followed by the whole gamut of emotions since Century one to twenty to the present day.  You have never seen better dialogue between supplier and Government anywhere in your life.  No living person knows how many Government Departments exist, each with comptrollers, secretaries, armies of clerks on various levels of authority and the Beef Contract Man even ended up at the Office of the President.  Follow the dialogue on the Tomahawk even if you can’t find the picture.  If you get the original CD Rom you find the Tomahawk anyway.


Professional book or story [or film] reviews always try to tell you the story, including the names of all the characters and what they do as well as what they don’t do [shucks, some reviews actually try to tell you what is good or bad in the work they review].  I detest that because I want to feel the theme, the contest and the characters coming alive in me when I read.  So I won’t spoil your fun [I don’t get paid to do that after all].


Thus, just once more.  Sit down with your favorite refreshment and enjoy.  Take the dialogue slowly and look at the names given to characters [in itself worth twice the amount you will pay for the CD].  And enjoy the spectacle of Government.


Lastly, please oh please, don’t turn to the end of the story until you get there in the normal way.  The last line will do something to you!  It may make you smile or laugh, go mad or become hysterical, or you may just hug your wife and ask her to read it too.  Let me know by way of a comment what happened to you.

One Response to “Mark Twain in 1875 on Economy and Government 2009 [revised]”

  1. Ike Jakson Says:

    Good News! An old friend who knows more than I do about Googling sent me this site address where you can find the whole Mark Twain story including the Tomahawk sketch plus a whole lot more that I didn’t even know about from my CD Rom version. If you like the old sketches from way back then you will enjoy this.
    You can find the tale and everything here, on Google Books:

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