The United States of America is a proud 233 years old today. In many respects, its hard to believe that we are so old. 233 years is a long time. We have had 44 different presidents. We have fought a Revolution, a Civil War, 2 World Wars, and a bunch of other wars, some large, some small. We are the oldest democracy in the world (although some would debate this ‘fact.’)
Yet we are young–very young as a nation. Antiquity to us is Williamsburg. Antiquity in other parts of the world goes back thousands of years. We only got to the west coast crossing the continent a little more than 200 years ago.
It might not all have happened however, if it weren’t for Jack Jouett of Albemarle County, Virginia. Well now who the hell was Jack Jouett? He was the Virginia Paul Revere. General Tarleton was riding towards Charlottesville to capture Thomas Jefferson and the rest of the Virginia Legislature who were hiding out at Jefferson’s home, Monticello.
Jack Jouett was sleeping (on the lawn no less) at Cuckoo Tavern in Louisa when he spotted Tarleton and his calvalry. Jouett knew where the legislature was and rode off toward Monticello to warn Virginia’s leaders of the approaching British. Had they been captured, they probably all would have been hanged as traitors.
Jouett made the 40 mile ride and all but a few of the legislators escaped. He rode the back trails and through the woods, guided by the light of the full moon. Tarleton took the road. Much myth has grown up around this hometown boy.
Had Jack Jouett not warned Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia legislature, who knows what would have happened. Of course, the entire Revolutionary War is sort of a miracle. This country has so many ‘what if’s ‘in its history.
As we eat our burgers and hot dogs, enjoy the company of friends and family, and check out the fireworks, remember that Virginia is really where it all started. Hopefully some of our regular historians will drop by today to comment on our state, and to list some of our ‘firsts.’ Let’s stick the politics elsewhere and save this thread for good things about our state and nation on our country’s birthday!
[ED NOTE: Albemarle County might be a stretch. I think Lousia County also claims Captain Jouett. He ended up in Kentucky I believe]
Additional reading at Wikipedia. (Make sure to see Jouett’s encounter with an abused wife and a skillet)
Heavy duty stuff from Albemarle Archives (Famous, Infamous and Unforgettable People and Events that Shaped Central Virginia, Volume 1) (Paperback)