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Sunday, December 6, 2015

Baron Johann de Kalb and Nationality

Baron Johann de Kalb is one of the more intriguing "foreigners" who came to the nascent American nation to join the Patriot (American) forces in the Revolutionary War.  Born in Germany, he was trained by the French and came to America to assess Colonial attitudes towards the British.  Through the intervention of Benjamin Franklin and Lafayette, De Kalb came over with Lafayette in spring 1777 and in September, was appointed a major-general by the Continental Congress.  In command  of the Maryland and Delaware units of the Continental Army, he was mortally wounded at the Battle of Camden in South Carolina on August 16, 1780 and died of his wounds three days later.


He is honored by a statue on the grounds of the Maryland Statehouse in Annapolis, Maryland; the statue was erected in 1866.  Maryland claims his as its own based on his service with the Maryland line in the Revolution.  A plaque at the site claims de Kalb purportedly stated "I die the death I always prayed for: the death of a soldier fighting for the rights of man."

It is worth reflecting on de Kalb and his community of nationalities and loyalties as we ponder current immigration issues.  Here was a German, trained by and in service to the French, and died leading Americans into battle against the British.

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