ALTHOUGH Christopher Columbus is credited with discovering the Americas on behalf of the Spanish crown and is honoured by the USA, he of course never actually touched the land mass that we know as North America visiting only the Caribbean, Central and South America.
The Spanish colonised most of the countries south of ‘America’ as it is now known but are credited with establishing the first actual colony in North America in Florida. Juan Ponce de León went ashore in 1513 and claimed the land for Spain, naming it La Florida and by 1521 had established the first settlement there although the settlers were driven away by local natives and de León was killed.
For the next hundred years or so, the Spanish expanded their possessions in the general area of Florida although during the 18th century, they traded Florida for Cuba with the English.
The first official national Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed by George Washington as late as 1789 and it became a national holiday in 1863 thanks to Abraham Lincoln who declared it as such, during the American Civil War.
Today’s Thanksgiving centres around the family, with people travelling thousands of miles to share a turkey.
Turkey could have been the ‘one’
IT is said that at one time, the turkey and the bald eagle were each considered as the national symbol of America.
Benjamin Franklin was one of those who argued passionately on behalf of the turkey. Franklin felt the turkey, although “vain and silly,” was a better choice than the bald eagle, which he called “a coward.”
The bald eagle, a natural predator triumphed and was declared national bird in June 1782 because of its long life, great strength, majestic look and finally because it was believed at the time to be only found in North America.