A Monument to Adam – Carol Barnett

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Product Type: Digital Download

Format: SATB Score

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Composer: Carol Barnett

Text by: Mark Twain

Instrumentation: SATB , fiddle, mandolin, banjo, guitar, bass

Duration: Approx. 4'15" minutes

Date Written:  2020

Commissioned by The Cantata Singers in honor of Elmira, the place Twain thought was an Eden worthy of Adam.

Composer’s note: 

composer’s note: The Cantata Singers of Elmira, NY, and their director, will wickham, programmed The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass, and wanted to commission another bluegrass work to round out the concert. By happy coincidence, Mark Twain spent several years in Elmira and was well acquainted with several of the town’s leading citizens – a perfect excuse to set one of his texts.

How it happened – Mark Twain’s account:

“The matter started as a joke… Mr. Darwin’s Descent of Man had been in print five or six years, and the storm of indignation raised by it was still raging in pulpits and periodicals. In tracing the genesis of the human race back to its source, Mr. Darwin had left Adam out altogether… Jesting with Mr. Beecher [Rev. Thomas K. Beecher, of Elmira, New York] and other friends in Elmira, I said there seemed to be a likelihood that the world would discard Adam and that in the course of time Adam’s very name would be forgotten… [T]his calamity ought to be averted; a monument would accomplish this, and Elmira ought not to waste this honorable opportunity to do Adam a favor and herself a credit.

“Then the unexpected happened. Two bankers came forward…not for fun, not for sentiment, but because they saw in the monument certain commercial advantages for the town… One of the bankers subscribed five thousand dollars…the other one subscribed half as much... We got designs made – some of them were from Paris.

“In the beginning – when it was as yet a joke – I had framed a humble and beseeching and perfervid petition to Congress begging the government to build the monument… I sent it to General Joseph R. Hawley, who was then in the House, and he said he would present it. But he did not do it. He explained that when he came to read it he was afraid of it; it was too serious, too gushy, too sentimental – the House might take it for earnest.”

– Carol Barnett


The text for A Monument to Adam is adapted from Mark Twain’s petition:

( To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives 
of the United States In Congress Assembled)


A number of citizens of the city of Elmira in the state of New York, determined to erect a monument to Adam, and moved by a sentiment of love and duty, beg to lay before you the following facts.

1. As far as we know, no stone has ever been raised to commemorate the services rendered to our race by this great man.

2. The father of mankind has lain in entire neglect (though the Father of our Country has had for many years a monument in progress.)

3. No right-feeling human being should see this neglect continued; rather, we should rejoice that he will have reverent recognition at the hands of the people of Elmira.

4. If this monument be here set up, it will be to the eternal credit of the United States, one of the youngest of nations to spring from his loins after eons of unappreciation.

5. This idea having originated in the city of Elmira, she will be always grateful if the government shall secure to her a certain advantage.


We humbly petition that your honorable body restrict to Elmira the right to build a monument to Adam, and inflict a heavy penalty on any other community that shall propose or erect a monument to the said Adam.

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