American History: November Anniversaries

November 5
150th Anniversary of American suffragist Susan B. Anthony voting for the first time, in defiance of the law (1872) November 9 Mayflower arrives at Cape Cod, Mass. (1620)


November 10
Congress establishes U.S. Marine Corps (1775)


November 11
Veterans Day


November 17
Articles of Confederation submitted to states (1777)


November 21
100th Anniversary of Rebecca Felton of Georgia taking the oath of office, becoming the first female United States Senator (1922)


November 24
Thanksgiving Day


November 25
American Indian Heritage Day

Turkey or Eagles?
 The story that Franklin proposed the turkey as the national symbol began to circulate in American newspapers around the time of the country’s centennial and are based on a January 26, 1784, letter in which he panned the eagle and extolled the virtues of the gobbler to his daughter, Sarah. In doing so, though, he was not delivering a critique of the Great Seal but a new medal issued by the Society of the Cincinnati, an association of Continental Army veterans. “For my own part I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country,” he wrote. The Founding Father argued that the eagle was “a bird of bad moral character” that “does not get his living honestly” because it steals food from the fishing hawk and is “too lazy to fish for himself.”
 In contrast, Franklin called the turkey “a much more respectable bird” and “a true original native of America.” While he considered the eagle “a rank coward,” Franklin believed the turkey to be “a bird of courage” that “would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.” While the private letter was a spirited promotion of the turkey over the eagle, Franklin never made his views public, and when the chance had been given to him to officially propose a symbol for the United States eight years earlier, his idea was biblical, not avian.

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