"It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Former Nixon Cabinet Member and Amatuer Twain Scholar Dies

Claude Stout Brinegar, the nation's third Secretary of Transportation, passed away on March 13 in Palo Alto, California at the age of 82, according to the Associated Press.

Brinegar served under Richard Nixon, and is best remembered for instituting the 55 m.p.h. speed limit during the oil crisis of the mid 1970s. A lifelong oil man, as a hobby Brinegar indulged in a passion for Mark Twain throughout his life, collecting Twain memorabilia and first editions. He was also responsible for conclusively refuting the attribution of a collection of letters that had previously been credited to Twain.

Elmira College awarded Brinegar an honorary doctorate in 1997 for his work on Twain research. In lieu of services, his family is instead requesting contributions to either the college's Mark Twain Studies Center, or the Mark Twain House in Hartford.

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