(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
Virginia (1788, #10)
ACHILLES HEEL: Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union
HOMETOWN HERO: Martha Washington, because although her husband’s legacy is by now more or less sealed in the annals of history, our image of the nation’s first lady has been mutating over the years, with recent revelations concerning her handling of enslaved persons held exclusively in her power according to the law (by virtue of a first marriage into a wealthy family line), seeming to cast a shadow over her persona, gradually morphing it from pure kindness and beneficence, to self-serving and somewhat coldhearted, given the decision-making that resulted in multiple family breakups — unspeakable cruelty of both a physical and spiritual nature.
Washington (1889, #42)
ACHILLES HEEL: forest for the trees
HOMETOWN HERO: David Swinson Maynard (the “Doc”), because he utilized his prior experience as an observer of city-building enterprises to direct magnificent efforts on behalf of personal, then community prosperity, planting deep roots and helping to concoct a humble outpost, very nearly out of thin air, employing ample wit, legal machinations, financial savvy, and friendly relations with natives, whom he might’ve feared just a little bit, if his determined use of city funds for their ongoing compensation (racketeering) is any indication; a staunch supporter of female prostitution.
West Virginia (1863, #35)
ACHILLES HEEL: coal
HOMETOWN HERO: Patrick Gass, carpenter for the Lewis & Clark expedition, because he diligently maintained a journal during their travels and pushed for its publication the instant of their return, thereby giving the public a rare spotlight on the sweeping American frontier; and because his legal marriage at sixty and open fathering of seven children by a woman forty years his junior tells us “just a little bit” about the ways of human society, past and present.
Wisconsin (1848, #30)
ACHILLES HEEL: Babe, a big blue ox
HOMETOWN HERO: Joshua Glover, because he took the risk of a lifetime by fleeing enslavement to put himself into the hands of God, with the help of a few friendly neighbors sent forth by a higher power; although thwarted by local police whose functionaries were backed by the United States government’s Fugitive Slave Act, he nonetheless triumphed by recruiting the help of a journalist and the town’s entire abolitionist community, who rose up to demand his release, then quickly shuttled him forth to the British province of Canada.
Wyoming (1890, #44)
ACHILLES HEEL: local “yellowstone”
HOMETOWN HERO: Louisa Swain, because her full and complete legacy lies in the fact of her waking up the morning of September 6, 1870, donning a petticoat and outer garments, making her way to the Laramie polling place, and casting a vote.
ACHILLES HEEL: statehood
HOMETOWN HERO: Frederick Douglass, because there’s no other man who can claim the mantle of “conscience of the nation,” a position he held by dignity and gifts of oration that never deviated from truth-telling, however harsh or difficult for his audiences to stomach, while yet managing to avoid alienating grandiloquence, so much in vogue during those times (and our own), when it comes to preaching for global change.
ACHILLES HEEL: Maria
HOMETOWN HERO: María de las Mercedes Barbudo, because her fate, perhaps more than that of any other freedom fighter for liberation, alerted well-wishers back home to the ultimate dangers of relenting to Spanish rule (she was exiled to Venezuela and never married).
U.S. Virgin Islands
ACHILLES HEEL: Danish West Indies
HOMETOWN HERO: Denmark Vesey, because although we’re not one hundred percent certain that he couldn’t have purchased freedom for his wife and children, had he truly desired their release to his custody (he was the owner of a prosperous business), it is certain that from his safe space in Pennsylvania, where he’d amassed a congregation of nearly two thousand parishioners, together with a cadre of white abolitionist supporters, he set about determining the best way to exact revenge on his former overseers, involving plans for a bloody, largescale revolt, for which he was secretly rounded up with followers and summarily executed; and because his actions surely catapulted further assaults on enslaved persons, while pushing the country forward on its path to civil warfare and a “final solution” (all slave, all free).