A white feather, for Maori’s and Quakers, a symbol of peace, for Americans a symbol of courage, persistence and superior combat marksmanship. For Brits since the eighteenth century, a symbol of cowardice, used by patriotic groups including prominent members of the Suffragette movement and early feminists in order to shame men into enlisting.
In the 1870s, the Maori prophet of passive resistance Te Whit O Rongamai promoted the wearing of white feathers by his followers at Parihaka.
1775, Quakers in a Friends meeting house, in Easton, New York were faced by a tribe of Indians on the war path. Rather than flee, the Quakers fell silent and waited. The Indian chief came into the meeting house and finding no weapons he declared the Quakers as friends. On leaving he took a white feather from his quiver and attached it to the door as a sign to leave the building unharmed.
Its most notable wearer was US Marine Corps Sergeant Carlos Hathcock who was awarded the Silver Star medal for bravery during the Vietnam War. Hathcock picked up a white feather on a mission and wore it in his hat to taunt the enemy. He was so feared by enemy troops that they put a price on his head. Its wear on combat headgear flaunts an insultingly easy target for enemy snipers.
In August 1914, at the start of WW1, Admiral Charles Fitzgerald founded the Order of the White Feather with support from the prominent author Mrs. Humphrey Ward. The organization aimed to shame men into enlisting in the British army by persuading women to present them with a white feather if they were not wearing a uniform.
Perhaps the most misplaced use of a white feather was when one was presented to Seaman George Samson who was on his way in civilian clothes to a public reception in his honour. Samson had been awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry in the Gallipoli campaign.
Also, apparently, a white feather could be a gift from angels above. They drop from the sky in front of you to remind you to take care of yourself or simply notifying you of their presence. White feathers appear when angels are near, especially on the death of a loved one. 🤔
So there you have it.
I am quite peaceful I think, not always brave but sometimes, definitely not a Yankee doodle sharpshooter, and no-ones snuffed it in my family for ages. This came when a neighbour’s cat grabbed the back end of a white pigeon on my front lawn a while back. 😀