Friday, February 15, 2013

The Devil and Thomas Dale

I'm a fan of the film The Devil and Daniel Webster, based on the short story by Stephen Vincent Benet. In addition to the great Walter Huston's delightfully dapper turn as old Scratch himself, it oozes with a realistic expression of old Americanism and American exceptionalism.  On one hand, there is more apple pie patriotism than in a glass case at Der Dutchman.  On the other hand, it's not afraid - through old Scratch's counter punches - to point out the meaner side of America's history.  Probably a better take on what Americans have traditionally thought of their country than the counterculture myth of the 60s and beyond.

Anyway, I received a link to an interesting post that helps unpack the famous jury of the damned.  The names are tossed out rather quickly, and unless you are a student of that period in American history, you'll probably get lost past Arnold.  So here it is, the place to go to find out about just who those infernal jurors are, starting with Mr. Thomas Dale.


  1. Dale left Virginia in 1616 on the same ship that carried Pocahontas and her husband John Rolfe, the first English tobacco planter, to England. Dale wrote A True Relation of the State of Virginia, Left by Sir Thomas Dale, Knight, in May last, 1616. He never returned to Virginia, dying on a military expedition to the East Indies in 1619. A man as severe as Dale could never hope to be loved by the people he ruled, his presence on the jury of the damned in The Devil and Daniel Webster is tribute to that fact, but it is hard not to believe that without him the Virginia colony might well not have survived.

    That speaks volumes there I think.

    Not sure what it says just yet, but it's saying something.

  2. I know. It's difficult to judge harshly those who came before. Especially when I look out my window and wonder what the people centuries from now will say about us.


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