In 1861, Samuel Clemens avoided the brewing Civil War by going west. The new administration of Abraham Lincoln had offered his staunchly Republican brother a job as Territorial Secretary of Nevada. Clemens tagged along and ended up trying his hand at various trades, before taking his first writing job as reporter at the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise.
The freewheeling journalism of the Far West suited Clemens just fine. Serious news was often mixed with reports that had to be taken with a grainif not a gallonof salt. Soon, he began using the name Mark Twain and affixing it to sketches, reportage, and an occasional hoax. Though little remains of his writing at this period, it was a time when he first discovered his talent, his calling, and his voice.