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Bluejacket: A Versatile Word with Multiple Meanings


Bluejacket: A Versatile Word with Multiple Meanings

The word bluejacket may not be very familiar to many people, but it has a rich and varied history. Depending on the context, it can refer to a plant, a sailor, or a Native American leader. Here are some facts about each meaning of bluejacket:

  • Bluejacket as a plant: This is the common name for Tradescantia ohiensis, an herbaceous plant species in the genus Tradescantia native to eastern and central North America. It is also known as Ohio spiderwort, because of its spider-like flowers and its occurrence in Ohio. It has edible flowers and shoots, and can be used to soothe insect bites.
  • Bluejacket as a sailor: This is an informal term for an enlisted man in the navy, derived from the blue uniform worn by sailors. The term dates back to 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, when British sailors were called bluejackets to distinguish them from redcoats (soldiers). The term is still used today, especially in the U.S. Navy.
  • Blue Jacket as a Native American leader: This was the name of a war chief of the Shawnee people, who lived in the Ohio Country in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. His original name was Weyapiersenwah, which means “he who makes the river white with his hatchet”. He was known for his militant defense of Shawnee lands against American settlers and soldiers. He fought in Lord Dunmore’s War and the American Revolutionary War (allied with the British), and later led a confederation of Native American tribes against the U.S. in the Northwest Indian War. He died in 1810.

As you can see, bluejacket is a word that can have different meanings depending on the context. It is a word that reflects the diversity and complexity of history, culture, and nature.

One of the most interesting aspects of bluejacket as a plant is its ability to change color depending on the time of day and the amount of sunlight. The flowers are usually blue in the morning, but they turn pink or purple in the afternoon. This is because the flowers contain a pigment called anthocyanin, which reacts to the acidity of the cell sap. When the sap is more acidic in the morning, the pigment reflects blue light. When the sap becomes less acidic in the afternoon, the pigment reflects red light.

Another fascinating fact about bluejacket as a sailor is its role in naval history and literature. The term bluejacket has been used to describe sailors of various nationalities and ranks, from British admirals to American seamen. Some famous bluejackets in history include Horatio Nelson, John Paul Jones, and David Farragut. Some famous bluejackets in literature include Billy Budd, Captain Ahab, and Long John Silver. The term bluejacket has also been used to name ships, books, and magazines related to naval topics.

A final intriguing detail about Blue Jacket as a Native American leader is his possible origin and identity. There is a legend that Blue Jacket was actually a white man who was captured by the Shawnee as a boy and adopted into their tribe. According to this legend, his original name was Marmaduke Van Swearingen, and he was born in Maryland in 1734. However, this legend has been disputed by historians and genealogists, who argue that there is no evidence to support it. They claim that Blue Jacket was born into the Shawnee tribe around 1743, and that his father was a chief named Puckeshinwa.

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