"I want to preach in New York"


In the spring of 1867 MT was in New York, waiting to sail to the Holy Land on the Quaker City. New York was the city he had run away to when he was 17 years old, and now, having achieved a national reputation with the "Jumping Frog," and made audiences laugh at his lecture in both the far West and the Midwest, he was impatient to make his mark in the East. He went to some lengths, both at the time and in his autobiographical account, to suggest that this performance was Frank Fuller's idea, but in his own account of the event Fuller makes it clear that, although he supplied the money, it was MT who wanted to rent the largest hall in the city and pour the Sandwich Islanders out for a New York audience.

Fuller and MT promoted the lecture enthusiastically, although advertisements were much more serious than those for his performances in California, Nevada or Missouri. But as a newcomer MT was unable to compete with the other amusements currently in town, especially a new troupe of Japanese acrobats. He and Fuller filled the Cooper Institute with 2000 people, but only by "papering the house" -- that is, giving the tickets away. The audience, made up mainly of teachers, was delighted with his performance, and the papers, while they didn't devote much space to it, reviewed it very favorably. Fuller lost money, but MT gained notoriety that certainly added to the east coast's interest in the letters he would shortly be sending back from the Quaker City pilgrimage.