Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Man Without a Country by Edward Everett Hale

This the story of American Army lieutenant Philip Nolan. He renounces his country during a trial for treason and is consequently sentenced to spend the rest of his days at sea without so much as a word of news about the United States.

  A young United States Army lieutenant, Philip Nolan, who develops a friendship with the visiting Aaron Burr. When Burr is tried for treason, Nolan is tried as an accomplice. During his testimony, he bitterly renounces his nation, angrily shouting, "I wish I may never hear of the United States again!" The judge was completely shocked at this announcement, and on convicting him, granted him his wish. Lieutenant Nolan is to spend the rest of his life aboard United States Navy warships, in exile, with no right ever again to set foot on U.S. soil, and with explicit orders that no one shall ever mention his country to him again. Deprived of a homeland, Nolan slowly and painfully learns the true worth of his country. He misses it more than his friends or family, more than art or music or love or nature. Without it, he is nothing. Dying aboard a warship, he shows his room to an officer named Danforth. in this room is a "a little shrine" of patriotism. The Stars and Stripes are draped around a picture of George Washington. Over his bed, Nolan has painted a bald eagle, with lightning "blazing from his beak" and claws grasping the globe. At the foot of his bed is an outdated map of the United States, showing many of its old territories that had, unbeknownst to him, been admitted to statehood. Nolan smiles, "Here, you see, I have a country!"  When Nolan is found dead later that day, he is found to have drafted a suitably patriotic epitaph for himself. The epitaph states: In memory of PHILIP NOLAN, "'Lieutenant in the Army of the United States. He loved his country as no other man has loved her; but no man deserved less at her hands.'"

The Films
Starring Florence La Badie

Directed by Delbert Mann

Cliff Robertson as Philip Nolan
Beau Bridges as Frederick Ingham
Peter Strauss as Arthur Danforth
Robert Ryan as Lt. Cmdr. Vaughan,

Printing History
Written by Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909)

Atlantic Monthly
December 1863


  1. I still have about 53 of the old Classics Illustrated, but this is one I'm still missing (sigh).

  2. Oh, Scott, I remember reading this when I was a kid. It raised, as I remember, some great questions. Thanks for the reminder of it.