The Meaning of Spirit
Updated: Jan 20
I want to talk about the meaning of spirit. What is spirit to you? When I posed the question of what is New Hampshire spirit to the legendary newspaper publisher, Joe McQuaid, he, in his typical joking manner, said, “Well, the answer to that is going to be on the cover of the Union Leader tomorrow. We’re publishing an article on bourbon that is scented with secretions beaver’s castor sacs.”
The Tamworth Distillery has a bourbon called Eau de Musc, and it uses the scent glands of beaver located at the back end of the beaver. The FDA says it is perfectly safe, and the distillery says it has a vanilla fragrance.
As you can imagine, that was not the type of spirit I was looking for.
“Come on, Joe, define New Hampshire spirit. Define the spirit of the state that has the “live free or die” motto. “ Did you know that motto comes from John Stark and the full quote is, “live free or die, death is not the worst of evils.”
Joe then offered a bit of history about the state’s greatest hero, John Stark, the hero of the Battle at Bennington in 1777, who was the man who refused to fight for the United States government, he was so annoyed with it, he said he would fight only for the people of New Hampshire.
In 1752 Stark had gone on a hunting trip with three other men near Rumney. On that trip, they were ambushed by an Abenaki tribe that had come down from Canada. Stark and one man were captured. One was killed. Stark’s brother got away because he was able to warn him away in time.
During his captivity, Stark was made to run a gauntlet made up of two rows of warriors, each with clubs and rods that were up to eight feet long. Our John Stark had New Hampshire spirit. He had learned a little ditty in the Abenaki language that he planned to sing as he ran the gauntlet.
With such a level of bravery, he sang as he started the run, and the beatings began. “I’ll kiss all your women,”
He challenged them with his song, and then he fought back. He grabbed a rod from one of the Indians and proceeded to swing his rod right. He swung his rod left and battled his way to the end of these very lethal columns. And, he made it.
The chief was so impressed with that brave act; they adopted him into the tribe.