Happy Thanksgiving! (Rhetoric Style)

At this time, the CUPID associates want to wish everyone a lovely Thanksgiving full of great food, family, football, and rhetoric.  Thanksgiving and rhetoric?  Yes, as proponents of collaboration, we thought we would give our readers a taste of rhetoric’s presence in Thanksgiving.  Here are some cool facts that show rhetoric’s role in one of our favorite cultural spheres-Thanksgiving!

The creator of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Sarah Josepha Hale also campaigned for Thanksgiving to be a national holiday through a seventeen-year letter writing process.  Finally in 1863, the magazine editor Hale convinced Abraham Lincoln through obviously effective rhetorical strategies that the holiday would unify the country once the Civil War ended.  Prior to this, the only national holidays in the United States were Independence Day and Washington’s Birthday.

Hale’s impact on Thanksgiving goes beyond the creation of the national holiday. She also outlined various recipes for Thanksgiving dinner in numerous editorials. Though these weren’t served at the original Thanksgiving, traditional foods such as turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and mashed potatoes are gobbled down each year because of Hale.

Turkeys derive their name from the Ottoman Empire “turkey merchants” who imported guinea fowl to North America. The North American turkey was thought to be a species of the guinea fowl and the name shifted to “turkey fowl.” Eventually, Americans shortened the term to just “turkey.” But, the Native American name for turkey is Firkee.

Also for keeping up with tradition, we would like to give thanks to Aristotle for the rhetorical triangle and a complete theory of rhetoric, Cicero for his all-encompassing, liberal view of rhetoric, Quintilian for focusing on the technical aspects of effective rhetoric, Bakhtin for his emphasis on communication and sharing knowledge, and Burke for his famous pentad. Thanks, rhetoricians/ rhetors, we appreciate it!  Happy Thanksgiving!

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One Comment

  1. Posted November 30, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    This is such an interesting blog post! I never even knew about this! Just further proof that rhetoric has helped develop so many facets of our every day lives (and continues to do so!) Great job, Christine, Maggie and Emily!

    – Mia