Benjamin Franklin Loved the Turkey, Despised the Bald Eagle as the National Bird
As Thanksgiving Day is being celebrated across the country, turkeys are being eaten all across the country as the bird is the featured entrée for most Thanksgiving lunches/dinners.
One of our Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, was very fond of the turkey. Now, legend has it that Franklin even wanted the bird to be featured on our national seal. But, according to history.com, that's not true.
The bald eagle has actually been the national bird of the U.S.A. since it started appearing on the Great Seal of the United States in 1782, according to history.com. The white eagle was actually set to appear on the original design - remember, America declared itself independent of Great Britain in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence. But, Charles Thomson, the secretary of Congress, actually recommended to Congress the American bald eagle be used instead.
Interestingly, Franklin - who was a part of the original committee picked by the Continental Congress to design the national seal - was not too fond of the bald eagle and called it “a bird of bad moral character.”
Here's an excerpt from a letter Franklin wrote to his daughter as pointed out by history.com:
'For my own part I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country.' The Founding Father argued that the eagle was 'a bird of bad moral character' that 'does not get his living honestly' because it steals food from the fishing hawk and is 'too lazy to fish for himself.'
As time went on and the design began appearing on official documents, currency, flags, public buildings and other government-related items, the bald eagle became an American icon, according to history.com.
In that same letter, Franklin also wrote about how fond he was of the turkey. Phrases such as “a much more respectable bird,” “a true original native of America,” and “a bird of courage” that “would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on” were used by Franklin to describe the turkey, as pointed out by history.com.