"The Man Without a Country" is a short story by American writer Edward Everett Hale, first published anonymously in The Atlantic in December 1863. It is the story of American Army lieutenant Philip Nolan, who renounces his country during a trial for treason and is consequently sentenced to spend the rest of his days at sea without so much as a word of news about the United States. Though the story is set in the early 19th century, it is an allegory about the upheaval of the American Civil War and was meant to promote the Union cause.
As Hale had intended, the short story created substantial support for the US as a country, identifying the priority of the Union over the individual states, and thus pressuring readers to view Southern secession negatively. In so doing, he convinced many individuals to join, or at least support the North's effort to, as Abraham Lincoln put it, "preserve the Union."
In the story, Hale skillfully convinced many readers that Nolan was an actual figure, thus increasing the story's effectiveness as a piece of patriotic literature. He achieved this realism through verisimilitude, creating an "air" of reality. By frequently mentioning specific dates and places and using numerous contemporary references, Hale grounds his story in a firm foundation of history and makes the story seem like a record of actual events. Furthermore, Hale makes the narrator, Frederick Ingham, seem a strongly reliable individual. Throughout the text, Ingham often acknowledges his mistakes and identifies possible lapses in his memory. For this reason, readers believe Ingham's sense of honesty, and automatically deem him a trustworthy and, to some extent, an accurate narrator. Finally, Hale uses a plain style, maintaining an unstilted and almost colloquial feel. Thus he makes the story easy to relate to, and the patriotic moral accessible to readers.
"The Man Without a Country" has been adapted for film several times, starting in 1917 with The Man Without a Country starring Florence La Badie, and another Man Without a Country starring John Litel and Gloria Holden and released by Warner Brothers in 1937.