Benjamin Franklin – Eagle versus Turkey

Benjamin Franklin

In 1784, in a letter, Benjamin Franklin expressed unhappiness over the eagle as America’s symbol.

Before the federal government adopted the bald eagle as the official bird, Connecticut used it on a seal. Seeing this seal, Benjamin Franklin wrote to his daughter and expressed his displeasure. He called the eagle a coward and said it had a bad moral character. Franklin noted that the eagle on the seal looked like a turkey and he felt the turkey a better choice. He called the turkey courageous and a true native American. Despite what he wrote in his letter, Franklin never actually put forth the turkey for voting as the official bird. He actually suggested a rattlesnake and the biblical scene of Moses facing Pharaoh to symbolize the country.

Can you imagine if the turkey had become the national bird? It would have changed Thanksgiving. I doubt most of us would continue to eat turkey as one of the main dishes if the turkey had this place of honor. For my part, I feel happy with the decision to use the bald eagle over the turkey.

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