Years and years ago, too many to admit, a little guy was blessed to purchase (or receive as a gift) an immortal Classics Illustrated comic book entitled "The Man Without a Country." I had not read the original article, nor the book, written by Edward Everett Hale, upon which the comic was based. I only knew in my tyke's brain that Hale was the keynote speaker at the Gettysburg cemetery dedication in November 1863 but was upstaged by the President of the United States. Recently, after somehow stumbling across the story in reading about Aaron Burr in a book about Jefferson ... oh yeah, what about that story, that comic book? It brought back memories.
Turning to an online version of the original story enabled seeing if it was as powerful as I had remembered. The protagonist, Philip Nolan, is a headstrong youth who "damned the United States -- I wish I may never hear of the United States again!" at his trial for treason and complicity in Burr's plot to create an empire in the Southwest. Nolan received his wish by being sentenced to a life term aboard navy ships, never to set foot on U.S. soil, never to even hear of the U.S. of A. from anyone. For some 50 years, the sentence was faithfully carried out.
Nolan came to realize his foolishness: a decision to spurn his native land results in a living death sentence. As his death from age nears, he calls a shipmate into his cabin, begging to learn about what has happened to his country during the half-century he has been consigned to sea void of any news about the land he once insulted ... but loves more than anything. Mercifully, the shipmate will fill him in:
"'... tell me something, tell me everything , Danforth, before I die!'
'Mr. Nolan,' said I, 'I will tell you everything you ask about. Only, where shall I begin?'
'Tell me their names,' he said. And he pointed to the stars on the flag. 'The last I know is Ohio. My father lived in Kentucky. But I have guessed Michigan and Indiana and Mississippi ....'"
The tale is an allegory criticizing the Southern Rebellion and upholding love of Union. (Did the little tyke know this, or was he just mesmerized by the horror of such a fate and the poignant story's end, revealing a shrine to the USA in Nolan's cabin?) It was most pleasing and a revelation to find Michigan in the great classic.