One of our Founding Fathers, who's inventive mind was always at work, questioned choice of the Bald Eagle as our national symbol.
A year and a half after the Great Seal was adopted by Congress on June 20, 1782 – with the eagle as its centerpiece – Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to his daughter and shared some thoughts about this new symbol of America. He did not express these personal musings elsewhere, but they have become legendary.Franklin thought the eagle on the original looked more like a turkey. Writing from France on January 26, 1784 to his daughter Sally (Mrs. Sarah Bache) in Philadelphia, Franklin casts doubt on the propriety of using the Bald Eagle to symbolize the "brave and honest Cincinnati of America," a newly formed society of revolutionary war officers.
The society's insignia had a poorly drawn eagle that looked more like a turkey, which prompted Franklin's naturally inquisitive mind to compare and contrast the two birds as a symbol for the United States.
Franklin's Letter to His Daughter where he compares the Bald Eagle and the Turkey (excerpt)"For my part I wish the Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our country. The Eagle 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 (Osprey); 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 the 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."
Well, Franklin's point is well taken, especially in regard to the eagles right wingnut behavior visa vie the hardworking blue collar Osprey. Still, as you can see in the photograph below, I remain somewhat a fan of our handsome looking National Symbol.....:) Yet as less that 1% of the total American bird population, I just hope he doesn't emulate his human one per centers and stash his ill gotten booty in foreign banks where he doesn't pay taxes on it unlike the rest of us turkeys and hard working middle class ospreys...
I think that the nature of the eagle is more representative of our country. After all, didn't we take it from the Native Americans? Plus, it would not be very patriotic to be eating our national bird!ReplyDelete
Good point...but he is still a thief...:)Delete
With that freeze the eagles have went to any open water. Had one in the side yard a few days ago, think it was watching traffic over road kill.ReplyDelete
Hi Mr T, Neat and informative post here. I had no idea about Franklin's concern. Sadly, my history teacher was not up to such fascinating things. A big thumbs up on that last part of the post here re the one percenters. This being my first comment for troutbirder in 2018, let me take this opportunity to wish you and Mrs T a Happy New Year. JohnReplyDelete
Dear Troutbirder, I so liked your comparison/analogy in the final paragraph: the % eagles vs. the rest of us who are ospreys! You just slipped that in after the Franklin quote so deftly! Thank you. Peace.ReplyDelete
I like your jacket, Mr Troutbirder, and your last paragraph.ReplyDelete
Okay...I like turkeys too and I get excited when I see them in the wild...but the eagle was stunning. I have never seen a wild turkey in these parts, but you never know....ReplyDelete
Well said, TB. You are nothing if not interesting in your take on politics. Thanks for that excerpt. :-)ReplyDelete
I've always thought it rather telling that the eagle was also symbolic for the Romans and the Third Reich. I think the turkey would have brought more long term peace and harmony.ReplyDelete
I have only ever seen one eagle in the wild and was impressed.ReplyDelete
We now have over 30 nesting pairs of eagles here on the Shore. They used to be so rare, we birders kept the few nesting sites a serious secret. It was real exciting to see them. We were much more accustomed to seeing the ospreys. Here is a link to our local osprey cam. When you pull it up, it will give you a link to the eagle cam nearby. http://www.friendsofblackwater.org/camhtm.html.ReplyDelete
This other link is to an eagle nest in Hanover, PA. It looks like a lot of damage has been done to last year’s nest. The pair will soon start rebuilding it for this year. I LOVE this cam – live 24/7!
Every now and again we see the local turkeys strutting around. No cam for them, however.
I knew about Franklin and his feelings for the Turkeys. I remember telling my kids (I taught art) about it. One of them drew a new national seal, but the turkey was cooked!
Your blog is very nice,Thanks for sharing good blog.ReplyDelete
Eagles are filthy road kill eating creatures...then to top it all off in the summer down at the Lake they eat baby Loons and Walleye...they are not my favorite bird at all and a horrible National Symbol...I would have picked a Turkey for sure...or maybe a Robin...everyone is always happy to see Robins:)ReplyDelete