"Still Revolutionary" & Connecticut's War-Filled Past

From Nathan Hale to the first submarine, walk the path of the war in New England

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Walter Woodward.
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David Collins.
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Fort Griswold, CT
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Nathan Hale at the gallows.
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"Still Revolutionary" & Connecticut's War-Filled Past
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"Still Revolutionary" & Connecticut's War-Filled Past

Do people care about their own history?

Movie box office reports would suggest that they care about vampires approximately three times as much as they care about Lincoln and the end of slavery. Most people in Connecticut, I'm convinced, know almost nothing about the history of Connecticut and can only be persuaded to care by great exertions -- such as the one we're about to make.

But writer Robert Sullivan offers a novel approach. If you really want to connect with history, figure out where it happened, and go there, and have your own adventures.

He'll be on our show today, and so will our state historian, Walter Woodward, with some pretty cool revolutionary war stories you've probably never heard. And a columnist from the Day in New London brings us the story of some kids down there who wondered why their historical treasure isn't prominently featured in the new tourism campaign.

You can join the conversation. E-mail colin@wnpr.org or Tweet us @wnprcolin.


  

Comments

EMAIL FROM MARY:

So many thanks for mentioning my name in connection with Nathan Hale! Such generosity - much appreciated. Of course I thoroughly enjoyed the show, “Still Revolutionary” and your bringing on David Collins on to point out how the state’s recent promotional slogan does little to highlight the many truly remarkable historic sites in Connecticut. [It’s really just the same old promotion with a new slogan.] Anyway, you and Walt Woodward have done such a wonderful job over the years promoting local history – including Nathan Hale. But, yes, am a bit fed up with the persistent implication that Hale was a relative unknown until long after his death. Of course there weren’t opinion polls during the early years of the Republic, so how do we know that Hale was little known? Compared to whom? As evidence of his early renown, consider the newspaper account about the death of Major John Andre in the London Courant & Westminster Chronicle (4 Dec. 1780), in which it is assumed the reader already knows the story of Hale. Though written eighty years after Hale’s death, Isaac Stuart’s biography (1856) of Hale predates Henry Randall’s work on Thomas Jefferson, and came before major works on Adams, Hamilton, Madison, or Jay. Before the Civil War, Hale’s real rivals for public attention, besides Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin, were the likes of John Paul Jones, Richard Montgomery, and Francis Marion. But 230 years ago, Nathan Hale’s story was known at least in New England. Of course the circle of claimants to fame in those days was small, but I think Hale’s supposed lack of fame actually has more to do with how he fits an American archetype: Being an unsung hero became part of his heroic identity, part of the usual jeremiad from the early 19th century onward about our shameful forgetfulness of worthy heroes, along with Hale’s innocence, inexperience, incompetence as a spy, and patriotic bravery. PS Loved Chion Wolf’s segment.

EMAIL FROM DUANE:

Hi Years ago I restored the Joshua King House in ridgefield. Can you please talk about his capture of Andre?
And also GW losing his horse in the river up in gaylordsville?

EMAIL FROM PAUL:

re: Sybil Ludington - Here in Danbury, according to the the Historical Society, her ride never happened.

EMAIL FROM DEBORAH:

Daniel Bissel of Windsor was a spy for George Washington during the revolution. I didn't get to hear your whole show so I don't know if he was mentioned.

EMAIL FROM DAVID:

Great show today! I’m a big fan of Robert Sullivan and I thought the way you rolled his book into Connecticut’s landscape was great. Along the lines of the show, you might enjoy this Independence Day post I made about the Lebanon Green and the Revolution at http://davidkleff.typepad.com/home/2012/07/finding-the-revolutionary-vib...