American Exceptionalism Personified
A slave who freed himself and others by stealing a warship
In 1862 at the height of the Civil War, Robert Smalls stole a Confederate gunship, USS Planter, from Fort Sumter and sailed it out of the harbor. Meticulously planning the theft, he and his other slave captives waited till the Confederates had gone ashore, loaded up his wife and other families of the crew, dressed up as the Captain of the vessel with a large straw hat covering his head and sailed out of Charlston harbor unopposed. Once out of range of the guns of Ft. Sumter, he headed to the Union picket line and surrendered. Robert spent the rest of the war piloting the warship and others for the Union army and was awarded a pension by Congress later in life. Robert later went on to establish the Republican Party of South Carolina and was its last Republican to represent South Carolina until 2011. He became very influential in politics and remains a key figure to this day of American greatness: from slavery, to warrior, to Congress.
Everyone dies but the Valor of some lives on forever.