(13) Rhode Island || (14) Vermont || (15) Kentucky || (16) Tennessee || (17) Ohio || (18) Louisiana || (19) Indiana || (20) Mississippi || (21) Illinois || (22) Alabama || (23) Maine || (24) Missouri || (25) Arkansas || (26) Michigan ||
intended as a supplement to u.s. history 101.2, a textbook
Oregon (1859, #33)
ACHILLES HEEL: Cape Disappointment
HOMETOWN HERO: William Hanley, because he was an obscenely wealthy man, with an enormous ranch known for hosting dignitaries, whereas we have the distinct impression from his journals and secondhand accounts of his character, that he would’ve been perfectly capable of achieving happiness with decidedly more modest accomplishments, still rising each morning to his dying day with a positive refrain and declaration that life was “just fine!”
Pennsylvania (1787, #2)
ACHILLES HEEL: separatist Quaker or egalitarian Amish luddites
HOMETOWN HERO: Deborah Read, because she finally stopped responding to her absentee partner’s transatlantic posts, sick of maintaining a sham marriage after having endured years of abandonment in favor of European high society and a privileged lifestyle that he never would’ve attained had he not the great fortune of procuring for himself early in life such a capable woman of means (of course, she was married to the elusive shylock, born statesman and brilliant inventor, Ben Franklin).
Rhode Island (1790, #13)
ACHILLES HEEL: Providence Plantations
HOMETOWN HERO: Roger Williams, because at a time when moral convenience seemed everywhere the dominant mode of existence, he refused such sleights of hand, putting his foot down on the issues of abolition of slavery and wholescale slaughter of native peoples, even though it caused him to butt heads directly with Church of England goons overseeing the Massachusetts Bay Colony, eventually leading to his dismissal and orders to cease ministerial work; and because his banishment reminds us that the distinction of “slave vs. free” states has always been murky with respect to New England, in that many of the latter still upheld enslavement of another human as a legal manner of securing work for personal benefit, even if at the time there were few large plantations (or plants) where such practice was on open display.
South Carolina (1788, #8)
ACHILLES HEEL: Confederate States of America
HOMETOWN HERO: Francis Marion, the “swamp fox” Continental Army general, because we can all respect a consummate tactician, and the imagery of his men scattered in the marshy, disease-infested wetlands of the south, besieging the expensively outfitted, formally trained British army and handsomely compensated, staunch loyalists of the crown with unremitting stealth attacks is captivating to the extreme, in all the best ways.
South Dakota (1889, #40)
ACHILLES HEEL: badlands
HOMETOWN HERO: Poker Alice, because she smoked cigars, cursed a lot, and played cards for a living, and what’s not to love about that?; plus, she was a former prostitute who ran a brothel where she didn’t flinch from upholding God’s work (no hanky-panky on Sundays).
Tennessee (1796, #16)
ACHILLES HEEL: Boonesborough
HOMETOWN HERO: William Bean, a pioneer settler in the state, perhaps its very first, especially because of what few clues we have as to the character and life of the man, which allows us to take endless imaginative liberties when concocting the circumstances of his resettlement in a cabin he used as a base for trapping, hunting, fishing, farming, and other activities, so far from the oversight of his originating Puritan colony.
Texas (1845, #28)
ACHILLES HEEL: annexation
HOMETOWN HERO: Emily D. West, because of the delicious mythology around her christening as the state’s “yellow rose,” in which she single-handedly dealt the nation of Mexico their final, knockout blow in the state’s revolutionary war (with a 1:65 ratio of Texian vs. Mexican lives lost), by bedding their army’s general who was thereby caught — more or less literally — pants down.
Utah (1896, #45)
ACHILLES HEEL: polygamist beginnings
HOMETOWN HERO: Zina D. H. Young, because as “one of the wives” of both Brigham Young and his predecessor, Joseph Smith, her confident persona flies in the face of conventional society’s aversion to the polygamist lifestyle; and because we can feel quite certain that the story of her patient perseverance and godly embrace of those two men was almost wholly concocted by those wishing to absolve (or even make holy) their wicked desires of the flesh, whilst attempting to convince youthful minds (just as a childish Zina had herself been gently strong-armed so many generations ago) that they might also benefit from falling into line with the ideals of submissiveness and duty, when it comes to embracing their divinely appointed, second-class status.
Vermont (1791, #14)
ACHILLES HEEL: yuppies in tie-dye shirts and born-again hippies
HOMETOWN HERO: Ethan Allen, because his persona fits perfectly with our popular depictions of the heroic yeoman farmer, willing to flee responsibilities of a wife, family, and home by the call of duty, in his case, leading a ragtag civilian militia (“green, mountain boys”) on their bloodless seizure of a British-occupied fortification of questionable strategic significance, followed shortly thereafter by vociferous lobbying for compensation and full veteran benefits (finally acquiesced).