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Showing posts from December, 2019

The Turkey: America's National Bird?

Left to right: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin: for the birds--or were they?

In the 1969 musical1776there is a passionate discussion about what America’s national symbol should be.  Three of the delegates to the Continental Congress--Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams--argue with each other to support their favorite candidates.  Before breaking out in song, you hear Jefferson advocating that the dove, the bird of peace, represent the new nation.  John Adams advocates the majestic eagle.  Benjamin Franklin pushes for the intelligent, indigenous turkey.  If you’ll pardon the spoiler: John Adams wins the argument.
The song “The Egg” from1776
It’s a charming song, and an amusing scene, but I’m afraid it was just a myth.  What the song refers to is an actual committee that the three men were on that was tasked to come up with a design for the Great Seal of the United States.  It’s true that each man had his own idea what that seal should look like, but none of…

Why there were only four Englishwomen at the first Thanksgiving

At the first Thanksgiving, in November 1621, there were only four European women in attendance.  It’s not that more weren’t invited.It’s just that there were only four European women around.All the others died. -->
The Mayflower during its Atlantic crossing, fall 1620 (photo not available).
The Pilgrims’ first winter at Plymouth was harsh, and they weren’t ready for it.  Only five of the women in the group lived to see the spring.Most of the men survived, and 22 of the thirty of the children survived, too.  The Mayflower landed on November 16, 1620, right when winter was starting.  The Pilgrims figured it wouldn’t matter so much since they had traveled to a place well south of England, so the winter would probably be milder.  London is as far north as the city of Calgary, but its winters aren’t as cold as Calgary’s because the Gulf Stream current sends warm water and warm air, providing a much gentler climate for it and for western Europe.  This was not understood yet, but they learn…