Friday, July 1, 2011

The Turkey - Almost A National Symbol

There is perhaps no greater symbol of our country than its national bird, the bald eagle. With its regal appearance it’s easy to see why the bald eagle was chosen by congress to represent America rather than the  wild turkey that Benjamin Franklin was campaigning for. In a well-known letter he wrote to his daughter in 1784, Franklin made his feelings about the national bird known.

“For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.

With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country...

I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For in Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America... He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”

We can gather from his letter that Mr. Franklin was not too big a fan of the bald eagle. But in the end, congress got their way; the bald eagle received national symbol status and the turkey got...Thanksgiving.

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