Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cheer for Team USA with DTOM

No, DTOM is not some hip-hop morphing of a dude named Tom’s name, though it might make him way cooler. DTOM stands for Don’t Tread On Me, a phrase which USA national soccer fans know well, along with the snake design. And it so happens to be on this cool special edition tee from Nike.

All this made me wonder, where did the Don’t Tread On Me phrase and the snake design come from? My next move was to go to the web for some research, and I inevitably ended up in the most trustworthy informational site on the planet: Wikipedia. When you read it, you’re bound to be filled with a great spirit of patriotism and said spirit will undoubtedly move you to buy this awesome shirt, if not for today’s World Cup 2010 qualifying match against bitter rivals Mexico, then for the remainder of the US’s qualifying campaign.

Don’t Tread On Me – The History

The use of the eastern diamondback rattlesnake as a symbol of the American colonies can be traced back to the publications of Benjamin Franklin. In 1751, he made the first reference to the rattlesnake in a satirical commentary published in his Pennsylvania Gazette. It had been the policy of Britain to send convicted criminals to America, and Franklin suggested that they thank the British by sending rattlesnakes to England.
In 1754, during the French and Indian War, Franklin published his famous woodcut of a snake cut into eight sections. It represented the colonies, with New England joined together as the head and South Carolina as the tail, following their order along the coast. Under the snake was the message "Join, or Die." This was the first political cartoon published in an American newspaper.

As the American Revolution grew closer, the snake began to see more use as a symbol of the colonies. In 1774, Paul Revere added it to the title of his paper, The Massachusetts Spy, as a snake joined to fight a British dragon. In December 1775, Benjamin Franklin published an essay in the Pennsylvania Journal under the pseudonym American Guesser in which he suggested that the rattlesnake was a good symbol for the American spirit:

‘I recollected that her eye excelled in brightness, that of any other animal, and that she has no eye-lids—She may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance.—She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage.—As if anxious to prevent all pretentions of quarrelling with her, the weapons with which nature has furnished her, she conceals in the roof of her mouth, so that, to those who are unacquainted with her, she appears to be a most defenceless animal; and even when those weapons are shewn and extended for her defence, they appear weak and contemptible; but their wounds however small, are decisive and fatal:—Conscious of this, she never wounds till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her.—Was I wrong, Sir, in thinking this a strong picture of the temper and conduct of America?’

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