Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Man Without a Country

There's currently much flap, it seems, over video of Senator Obama's pastor of twenty years giving a sermon in which he shouts rather forcefully that black people should not sing the song "God Bless America" but rather "God Damn America".

One may say many things about about the Reverend Wright's comments, and I'm sure many will, but in my case the fuss reminded me of one of my favorite stories, and thus took me pleasantly out of the here and now.

The Man Without a Country was written by minister Edward Everett Hale, and appeared (anonymously) in the December 1863 issue of the Atlantic Monthly. It tells the story of a young naval officer who is caught up in Aaron Burr's treason shortly before the 1812 war and says, at his court martial for said treason, "God damn the United States. I hope never to hear its name again."

The court chooses to issue that as its sentence.

The story is at once patriotic and deeply humane -- perhaps unsurprisingly as it comes from a time during which the nation was engaged in tearing itself apart in the greatest war it has ever fought. Slightly easier on the eyes than the above reproduction of the original publication in the Atlantic is this electronic version from Bartleby.

It's not a very long read, and much rewards the reader for his trouble. Definately something I would put down as a "must read" in any homeschooled high school or junior high curriculum.


Melanie Bettinelli said...

What a great story! Thanks for pointing it out. I agree this will go on my must read list.

Anonymous said...

A great film adaptation was made for tv in 1973 with Cliff Robertson in the title role. Interesting that this adaptation came out in 73 in the aftermath of Vietnam, just as in 1863 during the Civil War the short story itself was written, both periods in which patriotism and its meaning were hot topics.

CMinor said...

Wow--there's an old memory--I think it was in one of my High School lit books! Thanks for the ref--I'll have to go look it up!