American Origins: 5 little known facts about the United States

February 8, 2018 - Culture

The good ol’ US of A. One of the world’s youngest nations and certainly its youngest superpower, America has a rich and muddled history nonetheless. From turkey birds to Viking visitors, we’ve gathered up five of the weirdest facts around, all based on the nation’s humble origins. 

1. Land Ho! The First Tourists 

You know how it goes. Way back when in the late 15th Century an adventurous fellow by the name of Chris Columbus sailed out – out towards the west, towards danger, towards unknowing. He hoped to chart a new route to the Orient. Instead, after ten weeks at sea, he found himself land ho on the beaches of America. Commonly touted as the continent’s ‘discoverer,’ he was, in fact, quite late to the party. Native societies had been roaming the land for generations and, as new evidence now shows, they had already been partial to visitors.

From the Vikings, believe it not; Danes had been sailing back and forth across the Atlantic for centuries. Long before Christopher C. was even born, they braved the open ocean on their infamous longboats and stepped their stompy feet on land that would one day become part of the United States. 

2. Taxes? No Thanks

It was taxes that angered the colonies; it was taxes that lit the spark of revolution. Understandably, then, there was a certain hesitation when it came to placing heavy tolls on citizens by the time the founding fathers came to power. Still, there were bills to be paid and a fledgeling nation was in need of repairs. Cue lotteries. That’s right, lotteries. The head honchos themselves were in fact known to organise en-masse games of chance for purposes both personal and governmental. Modern gaming brand Lottoland notes that the game involved guessing the number of Bibles sold in New York. The history of organized lotteries is indeed wild and monumental, and it even has a place in the origins of America.   

3. Imports and Horses

Horses! European colonists and immigrants to the Americas introduced plenty of things during the settling of this newfound land, from crops and gunpowder to the written word – and that extensive list just so happens to include the thoroughbred horse. Given the Native American stereotype, you might think these mighty steeds had been local mounts since time gone by but they were in fact only introduced quite recently. The USA wouldn’t have been the same its without horses – to ride into battle, to pull cargo, to call upon friends.

4. The Turkey Bird

A bald eagle soars – America’s national bird appears in all its regal glory. It wasn’t always so, however. During the establishment of the nation, several creatures found themselves in contention for the top spot upon the flag, up to and including the lowly turkey. Believe it or not, Ben Franklin himself argued in support of this latter mascot, claiming the eagle was ‘a bird of bad moral character,’ on account of its scavenging habits. The turkey, on the other hand, was apparently ‘a bird of courage.’

5. Denture Donations 

Ever heard of George Washington’s wooden teeth? Well, turns out they weren’t so wooden, after all. Rather than carve up a pair of dentures, he purchased his canines and molars from the very slaves who served under him. Or rather, that he owned. History makes heroes look a whole lot less noble when placed under the microscope, huh?  

That’s it for this list, but there’s plenty more out there to discover. Whether it’s America’s history, the lotteries or the life and death cycle of a turkey bird, there’s always more to learn. 

› tags: American Origins / history / list / Turkey /

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