Thoughts of Ben Franklin on Independence Day

We surely have all heard that Benjamin Franklin preferred the turkey to the eagle as the national bird. According to the United States Diplomacy Center the myth is completely false. However, in a letter to his daughter Franklin bemoans the choice of the bald eagle. He writes:
“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….
 The article can be read in its entirety here:  http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/american-myths-benjamin-franklins-turkey-and-the-presidential-seal-6623414/


Franklin goes on to say,

“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.”


The words of the wise and witty Franklin are vindicated in this video where a turkey ably defends his farm yard, not against the British Army but against...the U.S. Postal Service.




Vain, silly, and courageous indeed!

Comments

  1. Glad to know old Ben didn't want the turkey as our national bird. They are so dumb. When we lived in Sonoma county they used to attack parked cars because they saw their reflection in hubcaps, stop traffic while they ran back and forth in the street trying to decide which side they really wanted to be on and I was told one even crashed through a big window at a dialysis center when he attacked his reflection in the window. After seeing them in action, I couldn't understand why Ben would have preferred them over the bald eagle. =D

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    1. I'm glad it was a myth too. I enjoyed his commentary on the bald eagle though :)

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