Editor’s Note: This article written by Jeff Cattel was originally published on Greatist, a digital publication committed to happy and healthy lifestyle choices.
In between making hand turkeys and pilgrim hats, we learned that the colonists celebrated their bountiful harvest in the New World in 1621 by inviting Native Americans for a feast complete with turkey and all of the usual fixings: stuffing, cranberry sauce, and gravy. But it turns out those were tall tales we learned in elementary school. The pilgrims and natives probably stuffed themselves silly with venison, not turkey. So much for keeping that tradition alive.
There were a few forces at work to make turkey the meat du jour for Thanksgiving. Practically speaking, chicken and cows were more valuable to keep around for their eggs and milk than turkeys, which were farmed and hunted for their meat. Plus, one full-grown turkey was large enough to feed a family.
Logical reasons aside, Sarah Josepha Hale (aka “the godmother of Thanksgiving”) deserves much of the credit for making turkey the centerpiece of every Thanksgiving meal. Hale, who first gained notoriety as the author of "Mary Had a Little Lamb," edited “Godey's Lady Book,” a popular colonial era women’s magazine, and used her power to get Thanksgiving recognized as a national holiday. Her novel “Northwood” even devoted an entire chapter to the fall holiday. In the book, Hale describes a Thanksgiving feast where the roast turkey is the belle of the ball with savory stuffing and gravy. Hale also included recipes for a turkey roast and pumpkin pie in Godey's, spreading these new traditions to the masses, which they quickly gobbled up.
Now when one of your relatives starts talking about the first Thanksgiving during this year’s celebrations, you can drop some knowledge and help everyone steer clear of those dicier topics.
New York City has seen dark times, but in the spring and early summer of 1776 the outlook was especially grim. The Revolutionary War was in its early, chaotic days, the British fleet sailed en masse toward the city, and in a desperate defensive measure, General George Washington ordered thousands of his Continental troops into lower Manhattan. Almost a third of the city's citizens fled, and Washington's filthy, untrained and undisciplined soldiers quartered themselves in the elegant houses left behind. They were hungry, cold and scared, and they numbed their fear with drink, gambling and prostitutes. They were about to face the greatest military force in the world, outgunned and outmanned, fighting for a country that hadn't been created yet.
In hindsight, America's victory against the British seems like one of history's inevitabilities, but in the beginning it was anything but. And had a small group of pro-British conspirators had their way, the Glorious Cause might have lost its essential leader — George Washington — to imprisonment, execution or assassination.
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., left, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., center, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, are disagreeing with President Donald Trump's sudden decision to pull all 2,000 U.S. troops out of Syria, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite)
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Soldiers, family and community gathered in Morehead City to render honors and witness the transfer and memorial of U.S. Army Sgt James Slape Nov. 9-11, 2018. Slape will hold a temporary resting place in Morehead City before ultimately moving to Arlington Cemetery. Slape supported Operations Resolute Support and Freedom Sentinel in Afghanistan. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt Leticia Samuels, North Carolina National Guard)
An ISIS suicide bomber killed and wounded an unknown number of American soldiers in Manbij, Syria, on Wednesday.