[John Burgoyne's] British army to General Gates, at Saratoga [on October 17, 1777], that officer dispatched one of his aids to convey the news to Congress. The interesting character of the intelligence would have prompted most men to have made as expeditions a journey as possible; but the aid proceeded so leisurely, that the intelligence reached Philadelphia three days before his arrival.
"It was usual for Congress, on such occasions, to bestow some mark of their esteem upon the person who was the bearer of intelligence so grateful; and it was proposed, in this case, to best upon the messenger an elegant sword.
"During the conversation on this subject in the hall, Dr. Witherspoon rose, and begged leave to amend the motion, by substituting for an elegant sword, a pair of golden spurs."
[Burgoyne's defeat was a major turning point in the American Revolution.]